CHIANGRAI– The Committee for the Economic Quadrangle 10 Chambers of Commerce, Northern Thailand said the fourth Friendship Bridge linking Laos and Thailand across the Mekong River is now 90% complete.
The committee chairman, Pattana Sittisombat, said a ceremony on 12 December at 1200 will mark the meeting of the two spans built from the Thai and Lao sides of the river.
“The bridge main construction is almost completed except for road bridge components, while China is moving some equipment to the site already to complete the task.”
He added that Thailand would also speed up asphalt road construction and interchange lanes before reaching the bridge.
Chiang Khong Customs head, Suwat Duangpan, said once the fourth bridge opened, it will help encourage transport, trade and tourism along the R3A route linking Thailand to Laos and China.
Last year, border trade at Chiang Khong circulated Bt8,199.4 million in revenue. Of that, Bt2,268.3 million was for imports and Bt5,931.1 million exports.
Mr Suwat said this year trade revenue would reach around Bt12,500 million, which broke down into Bt3,017 million for imports and Bt9,453.7 million for exports.
The route is a part of the so-called North-South Economic Corridor linking Thailand with Laos and Xishuangbanna Prefecture in Yunnan province, southern China.
“This route is more convenient than R3B a route from Mae Hong Son’ Mae Sai-Myanmar- Jinghong because there are obstacles of intra-transfer in Myanmar.”
He added: “Once the bridge opens it will shorten the time for trucks that have to queue now to board ferries.”
The bridge is part of the Greater Mekong sub-region North-South economic corridor project. It will connect Donsavan village in Huayxai district of Laos’ Bokeo province with Ing village in Chiang Khong district of Thailand’s Chiang Rai province.
It will facilitate land transport to Kunming in China using the R3A Highway, which is about 9 km from the bridge. The distance from Chiang Rai to Kunming is around 1,030 km.
However, road conditions on the R3A have deteriorated in recent years due to heavy trucks and the topography is very hilly in parts.
The 4th Mekong River Bridge Construction Project is jointly funded by Thailand and China costing Bt1,486.5 million, shared equally. The Lao and Thai governments are each contributing 50% of the construction cost
Construction was scheduled from 11 June 2010 to 10 December 2012 (30 months) however due to financing difficulties the official opening was delayed until mid 2013.
The joining bridge ceremony between Thailand and Laos will be held 12 December.
When completed, the bridge will be 630 metres long (480 metres over the river) and 14.7 metres wide. The project also includes the construction of an 11 km road (5 km on the Thai side and 6 km on Lao side); a common control area and traffic direction change point.
CR5-KT Group of China and Krung Thon Engineering of Thailand are jointly building the bridge and support facilities.by Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit