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18-02-08, 08:40 PM #1Paknam Web Online Staff
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Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge to close temporarily on Wednesday
Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge to close on Wednesday
Authorities will temporarily close the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge between Vientiane and Thailand 's Nong Khai province on February 20 to enable essential work to go ahead on the country's first railway link, Vientiane Times reported.
According to a notice from the Lao-Thai immigration border checkpoint last week, the bridge will be closed from 17:45 to 19:00.
The notice was issued to alert government bodies, foreign embassies, international organisations, businesspeople, travellers and foreign residents in Laos to the closure.
According to the Lao Railway Authority last week, construction on the 3.5-km rail link from Nong Khai to Dongphosy village in Vientiane through the Friendship Bridge is now 80 percent complete.
Deputy Head of the authority Sonesack N. Ngansana said that if the project continues to be on schedule, it will be finished in April this year.
The remaining work includes welding the sections of track together, laying stones under the railway and building the station.
Officials said Laos did not yet have a train of its own; to start with only Thai trains would carry goods and passengers into and out of Laos.
A Japanese businessman has expressed interest in negotiating the purchase of a train from Thailand for Laos, but discussions with the Thai authorities have not yet reached an agreement.
Sonesack said the railway authorities of Laos and Thailand expected to hold a meeting to discuss services between Laos and Thailand based on an agreement for daily railway transport in cooperation with customs officials from both countries for the inspection of goods.
The railway is a priority of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in promoting trade, investment and tourism with other countries, as well as integrating the landlocked country within the region.
A survey of the second phase of the railway, connecting Dongphosy train station in Hadxaifong district to the planned station in Khamsavat village, Xaysettha district, is now 20 percent complete.
The survey will cost 246,565 euros (US$361,796), to be provided by the French Development Agency.
The inspection of goods leaving and entering Laos will take place at Dongphosy train station.
After the 9-km railway link, the authority plans to build another station in the Km 21 area, to connect with the railway running from Vietnam through Khammuan province.
The project is part of the plan to build a trans-Asia railway network, with routes connecting member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations.
By Somsack Pongkhao
Vientiane Times/Asia News Network
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