Proposal for 160 km Expressway Linking Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam

Construction on a 160km expressway linking Kaysone Phomvihane, the capital city of Savannakhet, to Lao Bao Border Gate in Vietnam's central province of Quang Tri is set to begin soon.

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Authorities of Laos and Thailand recently discussed a feasibility plan for the construction of a 160-km expressway from the central Lao province of Savannakhet to the Lao Bao border gate of Vietnam, according to Lao media cited by VNA.

Deputy Governor Senesak Soulysak of Savannakhet proposed the expressway construction plan to former Thai Minister of Energy and Mines, Sonthirat Sonthijirawong, and other Thai officials.

160km Highway Proposed to Link Laos, Thailand and Vietnam
Illustrative image. Photo: AFP/VNA

According to the official, the expressway construction, along with the development of five-star hotels, golf courses, and international transportation services, will contribute to the growth of the province, which has already attracted increased foreign investment in the renewable energy sector.

The expressway will also facilitate trade as the province is located in the East-West Economic Corridor, he added.

Thailand is currently the second largest foreign investor in Savannakhet province, following China.

In April 2022, the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment halted the work of contracted developers on the Vang Vieng-Luang Prabang Expressway and Luang Prabang-Oudomxay Expressway projects due to multiple delays, as reported by the Laotian Times.

Feasibility studies have also been conducted for the construction of the Vientiane to Houaphanh Expressway and the expressway from Houaphanh Province to the border with Vietnam in 2022.

In related news, a consortium consisting of Vietnamese infrastructure developer Deo Ca Group and Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company has proposed the construction of a 103-kilometer railway through Vietnam’s central provinces of Ha Tinh and Quang Binh, which border Laos.

The consortium has sought permission from Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport to build the railway as a public-private partnership (PPP) project with a total investment of 27.485 trillion VND (1.16 billion USD).

The proposed railway section, called Vung An – Tan Ap – Mu Gia, will connect Vung Ang Port in Ha Tinh province to Mu Gia, a mountain pass in the Annamite Range between Vietnam and Laos.

The railway is part of a larger Vietnam-Laos railroad project, which will cover a distance of 554 kilometers and connect Vientiane, the capital of Laos, with Vung Ang Port. This railroad project has already been approved by the Vietnamese Prime Minister and is scheduled to be completed before 2030.

In March, Deo Ca Group and Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company signed a joint venture agreement to develop the railway project.

Once operational, the railway project is expected to improve freight forwarding services between Vietnam and neighboring countries, particularly from Vung Ang Port to economic centers in northern Laos and southern China.

Hannah Nguyen