BANGKOK, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Thailand and Laos on Friday signed an agreement on building the fifth friendship bridge between Thailand's Bueng Kan province and Laos' Bolikhamsai province.
Thailand's Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith and Lao Public Works and Transport Minister Bounchan Sinthavong presided over the signing ceremony on Friday.
Arkhom said Thailand's upper northeastern region, particularly Bueng Kan province, will be connected with Bolikhamsai and nearby provinces via the friendship bridge in the next three years.
He said Bueng Kan and Bolikhamsai could be gateways for bilateral trade, investment and tourism between the two neighboring countries. Thai cargoes could be transported via the Thai-Lao friendship bridge to southern China while Lao products could be transported from central Laos to Laem Chabang deep-sea port in eastern Thailand, he said.
The friendship bridge is part of the Greater Mekong Sub-region and ACMECS (Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy) economic cooperation between Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.
The construction of the bridge is estimated to cost 3.93 billion baht (about 126.77 million U.S. dollars), some 1.3 billion baht (about 42 million U.S. dollars) of which will be borrowed by Laos from Thailand's Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency.
The construction of the 1.35 km prestressed concrete bridge is estimated to take three years and the project also covers a 15 km-long two-lane road, mostly in Thai territory, with border control facilities on both sides.