(Khonesavanh Latsaphao:Vientiane Times)fourth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge set to officially open on October 2,2013.The bridge, which connects Bokeo province to Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, remains closed to the public at present but people in the area may notice some activity along the new route.
“Some motorcycles and cars can be seen driving on the new bridge, but they are just workers,” fourth Mekong River Bridge Construction Project Head, Mr Vanthong Budtanavong, told Vientiane Times on Thursday.Guards blocking the entrance and exits to the bridge will prevent its public use from now until the official opening on October 2.
According to reports from the Lao and Thai ministries, Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will attend the opening ceremony.The bridge was flagged to open in September at a meeting between officials from the two countries in Thailand two months ago, however Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s busy schedule delayed the date until October.
Mr Vanthong said work on the Lao side of the bridge was now almost 99 percent complete, and the only remaining task was to lay about 6km of asphalt from the bridge to link with Road No. R3.“We can finish paving this asphalt in the first two weeks of this month if there is no rain,” he said.
Construction of the bridge began in June 2010 and an extension to the initial deadline was approved after early delays.The bridge is part of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region North-South Economic Corridor, which links Chiang Rai province in Thailand to Yunnan province in China, via Laos.
Locally, it will connect Done village in Bokeo’s Huayxai district with Ing village in Chiang Rai province.The 14.7m-wide bridge will speed up transport of goods between Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and China, and open up the area to further tourism development.
The project is jointly funded by Laos and Thailand, with the total cost exceeding US$44.8 million.According to Bokeo provincial officials, the Chinese government is providing US$20 million in grant aid so the Lao government can meet its 50 percent share of the costs
Laos will also provide more than 4 billion kip in compensation payouts for people whose properties are affected on the Lao side of the bridge.The new bridge in Bokeo will be the fourth to cross the Mekong into Thailand from Laos.The first Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge was built in Vientiane, with a further two constructed in Savannakhet and Khammuan provinces.
While some news source in Thailand like Thansettakij News Paper have claimed that senior officer in Highways Department said the bridge will be officially Open by 11/12/13 this year. The construction is about 95 progression and then will open for the relevant authorities such as customs, immigration offices moved in to site for installation and do some system testing by october and final system testing will be completed by november.
Fourth Friendship Bridge constucted by co-operation between CR5-KT Group of China and Krung Thon Engineering of Thailand which previously expected to be complete by december,2012 but with some reasons this company can’t finish this job on time then the Highways Department has extended contract for further six month which august 9,2013 is the deadline. Thailand Highways Department will no longer extend the contract if the construction is not completed by the deadline of the contract, the contractor must pay daily fines of about 150,000 baht until completion of this project.
Seems like Thailand and Lao PDR set the opening of the bridge on difference date, but however many peoples who residing in Chiang Khong old town want it to be open as early as possible because nowadays more than hundred of trucks crossing Mekong River only by ferry service which trucks have to drive along narrowing road at the middle of town before being loaded on ferry at pier , causing noise pollution, traffic jam, accidents are more frequent than in the past.If the bridge is open all the truck will cross border using bridge which located almost 10 kilometer away from town which will be good news for peoples living in old town.
Nowadays ferry service could cost 1,000-4,000 THB for one-way service depending on amont of vehicles sharing for fee on ferry.
You may also read this ,please click to read : Will Chiang Khong still be nice little town after construction of friendship bridge completed.
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