Expressway corridor linking China, Laos, Thailand earmarked
A road corridor has been assigned for the planned Boten-Huayxai Expressway connecting China to Thailand via Laos.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport held a meeting on Friday and approved the selection of 181 km “Corridor K” to traverse Lao lands.
The expressway links Boten in Luang Namtha province at the Laos-China border with Huayxai in Bokeo province bordering Thailand.
It is part of a planned regional expressway to connect China’s Kunming with Bangkok in Thailand.
The ministry signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a Chinese company from Yunnan province in July last year to survey the Boten-Huayxai Expressway corridor.
Corridor K appeared the best option among the three surveyed corridors when taking into account the length and environmental impacts of the expressway, an official with knowledge of the project told Vientiane Times yesterday.
While being considered the best option, corridor K still requires a corridor be cut through two forested conservation areas.
Thus the Friday meeting agreed that the Chinese company work closely with the relevant ministries on mitigating the potential impacts.
“The meeting agreed that the Chinese company coordinate with the Ministry of National Resources and Environment, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to look at ensuring the relevant laws and regulations are adhered to,” said the official who asked not to be named.
Once matters are progressing, authorities in charge will proceed to the next step, seeking approval from the government and the National Assembly if necessary as the road will be cut through the conservation forests, the official added.
If approved, the corridor K that connects the Boten – Mohan Special Economic Zone at the Laos-China Border could utilise the existing Boten-Mohan border checkpoint.
The 22.5-metre-wide expressway will be developed in parallel with the existing R 3 Road that currently connects China with Thailand via Laos.
Designed to be as straight as possible and to reduce steepness, the expressway comprises bridges and tunnels and will be a shortcut to save travelling time.
Currently, goods transported in the region between Laos, China and Thailand occur on existing roads including the R 3 Road by river on the Mekong.
The official said the expressway would fulfil the growing transport needs boosting trade, investment and tourism along the transport route and in the region as a whole.
It is expected that the project will be developed in the form of Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), which is a form of project financing where a private entity receives a concession from the private or public sector to finance, design, construct, own, and operate a facility as stated in the concession contract.
Once the project is approved by the government, the Chinese company will carry out a detailed survey and design to identify frameworks including investment cost, according to the official.