More Bridges to Link Laos to Thailand?

Thailand and Laos recently discussed the possibility to develop new cross-borders infrastructure between both countries following Laos’ government proposal to build three new bridges.

According to a conversation between Thai media and the deputy government spokesman Maj Gen Werachon Sukondhapatipak, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told to his counterpart, Lao Premier Thoungloune Sisoulith that more transport links through new bridges between the two neighbours will be taken up for final decisions based on mutual benefits. The two leaders discussed the issue together on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit which took place in early September in Vientiane.

Laos has proposed three more locations for the construction of new bridges over the Mekong River. They are Bung Karn and Borikhamxay, Ubon Ratchathani and Saravane, and Loei and Vientiane. Currently four bridges cross the border between both countries, the most important being the Friendship Bridge between Nong Khai and Vientiane followed by the second Friendship Bridge between Mukdahan and Savannakhet, the third Friendship Bridge between Nakhon Phanom and Takhek (Kammouane province) and finally the fourth Friendship bridge between Chiang Khong (Chiang Rai province) and Ban Houayxay in Bokeo province.

The two countries plan to promote border tourism at Phu Chee Fah and Phu Chee Dao in Chiang Rai, and Kiew Hok in Phayao, the deputy government spokesman said. The project is supported by Thailand Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

A decision could be taken by the end of the year or at the beginning of 2017 following an economic feasibility study.

Thailand-Laos four Friendship Bridges in numbers:

  • Nong Khai-Vientiane- 8 April 1994- 1,170 metres
  • Mukdahan-Savannakhet- 9 Jan. 2007- 1,600 metres
  • Nakhon Phanom-Takhek- 11 Nov. 2011- 1,423 metres
  • Chiang Khong-Ban Houayxay- 11 Dec. 2013- 480 metres