BANGKOK – The Government of Thailand is striving to turn Thailand into a transport hub for six countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), following an infrastructure development project worth 100 billion baht (over 3 billion USD) in the Thai border provinces.
Speaking with reporters on May 10, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said once construction of the facilities is complete, Thailand will become a major transit country among the GMS members.
The infrastructure includes a new double-track railway, bridges and roads as well as material transport centres for border provinces in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, China and Vietnam.
The minister said the infrastructure will create “economic corridors” and faster logistical management for these six countries. The five border provinces of Thailand will play an important role in linking the country with its neighbours, he told VNA.
At the Chiang Khong border checkpoint in northern Chiang Rai province, the Thai government has spent 85 billion baht (2.6 billion USD) developing a double-track railway from Denchai to Chiang Khong, and another 1.4 billion baht (43 million USD) on building a goods transport centre.
Chiang Khong is also part of the North-South Economic Corridor (NSEC), which links Thailand, Laos and southern China. To the west, the Mae Sot border checkpoint in Tak province has been touted as a transnational route in the East-West Economic Corridor.
On Thailand’s eastern border with Cambodia, the government is building a bridge in Sa Kaeo’s Aranyaprathet district, which will cross the Bhrom Hote Canal to access Poipet, Cambodia. The bridge will be opened in 2021.
In Nong Khai province opposite Laos, 1 billion baht (about 31 million USD) was spent on building a bridge for cars and trains heading to Vientiane, as well as a train station and a goods transport facility.
At the Nakhon Phanom border checkpoint, the Thai cabinet will be asked to approve a 68-billion-baht (2.1 billion USD) project to build a new double-track railway linking Ban Phai, Mukdahan and Nakhon Phanom in order to streamline the regional route from the northeastern border to the Laem Chabang Port in Chon Buri district, the transport minister said.
The Thai Government has already built a bridge worth 1.1 billion baht (34 million USD) over the Moei River to relieve traffic congestion at the checkpoint. The bridge is part of a larger plan to connect Mae Sot and Yangon, Myanmar and improve access to the Indian Ocean.