The Indochina Highway 2001-2003

THE INDOCHINA HIGHWAY
For other highway news, see the Road to Angkor Wat

Developing the Asian Highway network - Bangkok Post, November 24, 2003
After years of arduous negotiations, representatives of 32 Asia-Pacific countries last week adopted an agreement that sets out the minimum terms, conditions and standards for joining, coordinating and developing the vast, 140,000-kilometre Asian Highway network.

Plans for new highways through Laos, Burma, Cambodia and China - Bangkok Post, December 4, 2003
Terdsak Sedthamanop, director-general, said yesterday a two-lane route was planned from the Chiang Khong district of Chiang Rai province through Luang Namtha in Laos, and then continuing on to Jinghong in China...
There would be a 50 km stretch from Nan province to Muang Ngeun and Pak Beng in Laos. The route could eventually be extended to Hanoi. Calling of tenders was planned for next year. A second route to Laos would start from Tha Li district of Loei province, cross the border at the Huang river and continue to Ken Thao township on Laos. Work on the 20km project would begin on Dec 14.
The construction contract for the second Thai-Lao bridge across the Mekong river was signed yesterday at the Transport Ministry in Bangkok.
Planned for completion in 2006, the 2km bridge will link Mukdahan with Savannakhet in Laos. The work depends on a 2.5-billion baht loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
From Thailand to Burma, a 38km route, including the second bridge across the Mae Sai river, would be built to connect Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai province with Kengtung in Burma.
From Kengtung, it could be extended to Mandalay and India as well as Jinghong in China.
A 15km route is also planned from Mae Sot in Tak to Myawaddy in Burma. Construction of the 150-million-baht road should start next year.
To Cambodia, a 20km road is planned from Si Sa Ket to Anlong Veng. Thai government grant of 120 million baht is available for the extension of the route to Siem Reap.
Also planned was a 150km road from Koh Kong to Srey Ambel, Mr Terdsak said.

Kunming-Bangkok highway project to be launched soon - October 27, 2003
With a total length of 1,887 km, the highway will start in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, run through Laos and end in the Thai capital of Bangkok.

Driving from India to Thailand via Myanmar - but when? - Hindustan Times, October 11, 2003
Years after the idea was first conceived, a highway that will link India with Thailand via Myanmar is slowly taking shape but no one appears to be know when it ...

India, Thai, Myanmar meet on road project in December - The Hindu, October 9, 2003
An ambitious trilateral road project to connect India with Myanmar and Thailand may take concrete shape when their Foreign Ministers meet in New Delhi in December, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said today...
Another project under discussion is the modernization of the Dawai Port in Myanmar. A road will link it with Kanchanapuri and Bangkok in Thailand connecting Andaman Sea to Gulf of Thailand reducing journey time for ships, Sinha added.

Driving to Vietnam? - 07:44, May 25, 2002
From The Nation: A caravan of 4x4s organized by Thai tourism officials to promote driving in the Mekong lower basin were surprised to be halted at the Vietnamese border. "It shouldn't have been a problem anymore because Vietnam is one of six countries who signed the Greater Mekong Sub-region Agreement..."
In any event: "When the second Thailand-Laos Friendship Bridge [Mukdahan and Savannakhet] and Route 9 are completed, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam will be connected by highways," ....Right now, it takes six to eight hours to travel 230 km from Savannakhet on rugged Route 9 to the Bao border checkpoint. From Vietnam's far west border, it takes three hours to connect to Vietnam's National Highway 1 at Dong Ha, a small town in Quang Tri province. From here in Dong Ha, the ancient town of Hue is only two hours south. The trip is expected to be faster when Route 9 in Laos is completed in 2005...

India, Thailand, Myanmar Highway - The Economic Times, 17:36, April 6, 2002

India's northeast welcomes road link with Southeast Asia - AP, April 8, 2002

Thai, Laos, China road link plan - The Nation, January 15, 2002

The transport ministers of Thailand, Laos and China have agreed to construct a road linking the three countries, from Thailand's Chiang Khong to Jinghong in southern China. Transport and Communica-tion Minister Wan Muhamad Noor Matha said each country would invest equally in the road project, to be called route R3....
Wan Noor, who led a group of officials in a meeting with their Chinese and Laotian counterparts in Jinghong on January 12, said the cost would depend on the quality and the size of the highway. China, he said, suggested building a four-lane road, while Thailand and Laos went for two lanes initially....
Wan Nor said the aim was to finish a detailed study of the R3 project this year in order to begin construction next year, before completion in 2006. ....
The highway will cover 260 kilometres, starting from Chiang Khong in Chiang Rai province, then passing through Laos' Huay Sai, Laung Nam Ta, and Boten before reaching Jinghong.....

Plans for the new 'Asian Highway' shift into high gear - Business Day, January 15, 2002

Officials from Thailand, Laos and China meeting in Bangkok yesterday agreed, in principle, to go ahead with the construction of the "Asian Highway" that will connect the southern Chinese city of Kunming with Bangkok.... "The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will act as coordinator in the fields of technical assistance and highway design. The survey and design work will start this year and the construction will begin in 2003, with completion expected in 2006," Wan Noor said...

Thailand-Laos-Vietnam highway - November 28, 2001

Here's something on a Thailand-Laos-Vietnam highway that has been agreed to. The East-West Economic Corridor will run from the Vietnamese port of Danang through Savannakhet in Laos to Mae Sot on Thailand's western border. It's hoped to extend the road to Moulmein in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, which will link the South China Sea with the Indian Ocean....[see the next item down] The highway will include a bridge across the Mekong river, which flows along the Thailand-Laos border. The countries hope the project will be completed in four years.

Thailand-Myanmar-India highway - November 26, 2001

An AFP story on Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's trip to India this week includes a brief mention of an interesting regional highway proposal: (They will discuss) "the construction of a regional highway linking three countries -- Thailand, Myanmar and India," he told AFP. Yongyuth said the highway would run between the northern Thai district of Mae Sot and India's northeastern Assam region.

New routes would bring prosperity and problems
More convenient for gamblers, smugglers
Excerpted from the Bangkok Post, December 3, 2001 - Supamart Kasem

A seminar has concluded the planned Indochinese transportation network would ultimately benefit the country but the government must be ready for the myriad problems it was bound to generate....

Although the development would bring economic benefits to millions of people, Mr Korn warned Thailand would also have to deal with many problems. He said the convenient transport network could facilitate the immigration of alien workers and make Thailand once again prone to long-banished diseases such as malaria, elephantiasis, cerebrospinal meningitis and tuberculosis.

The regional network might also encourage more Thai gamblers to visit the 21 casinos spread across neighbouring countries, the clients of which are 90% Thai, he said.

Gen Siri warned of the influx of illicit goods and transnational criminals. Cheap goods from China might also snatch market shares enjoyed by Thai goods in neighbouring nations, he said.

Maj-Gen Picharnmet suggested Thailand be prepared for illegal immigrants, smuggled goods, drugs and transnational prostitution.

The transport routes would facilitate drug traffickers and the operation of 40-50 drug factories near Thailand, Mr Pitaya said. They could produce 700-800 million methamphetamine pills annually.

But Mr Pradech said tourism would benefit from the transport network and tourist arrivals would increase from 9.6 million to over 10 million.

He said Phitsanulok would become a tourism hub with easy access to historical attractions in Sukhothai, eco-tourist attractions in Tak and Burma, and other destinations in the Mekong region and beyond.

Many European and Asian tourists currently travel to China through Hong Kong, he said, but they could just as easily travel through Thailand if the new tourist routes were developed.

Mr Pradech predicted tourists from Europe would rise from two million a year to three million and travellers from other regions would increase from 7.5 million to nearly 10 million. The regional development would also facilitate the exchange of tourists between Thailand and China. Seminar participants agreed agencies would have to be ready to cope with immigration, drug and public health problems before pushing for the regional transport network.

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