CHIANG RAI – Cross-borders improvement with neighbours will be part of the strategy of the Thai government promised at the Greater Mekong Investment Forum, Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt. Two trillion Baht (the equivalent of US 65 billion) are due to be spent on new road and rail links, including the development of a high-speed train network. Improvements in both infrastructure networks will also be beneficial to Thailand’s neighbours as they will be natural connections to the Asia Development Bank idea of funding a vast network of trans-Asian connections linking China and India to Southeast Asia.
On the Thai side, Thailand already pledged to assist Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar by developing new road links. Among them is a new link between Mae Sot in Thailand’s Northwestern province of Tak with its Burmese neighbour of Mawlamyine. The just 100-km road will be built to a cost of THB 1 billion (US$ 330 million).
Thai and Chinese governments are currently funding the fourth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, which links Chiang Rai’s Chiang Khong district in the North to Laos and Yunnan province in southern. Thailand is also now looking at participating in the funding of a direct link between the Province of Nan and the province of Luang Prabang in Laos.
The biggest Thai involvement to date will be the development of infrastructures with the construction of a deep sea port in Dawei along the Andaman sea. The future port will link to Bangkok, and the Kanchanaburi province by a highway which also include the development of tourist infrastructures such as resort areas. According to the Bangkok Post daily, representatives from Thailand and Myanmar are now expected to finalize next Monday an agreement next Monday to speed up the development of the Dawei deep-sea port project, which is due to be completed within five years. The project is estimated to request a total investment of US$ 50 billion.