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  1. #1
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    New Thai-Lao bridge to open Dec 20

    KARNJANA KARNJANATAWE
    Another bridge linking Thailand's Mukdahan Province and Savanakhet of Laos will open December 20.
    HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside the opening. There will be three days of celebration from Dec 20-22 in Thailand to mark the event, while Laos will organise a border fair from Dec 17-24 featuring 200 booths selling local products .
    The bridge spanning the Khong River is 12-metre wide and 1.6 kilometres long. It is the second bridge across the Khong, following the first one linking Nong Khai and Vientiane, the Laotian capital.
    Mukdahan governor Boonsom Pirinyawong expects the new bridge to greatly increase trade and travel between Laos and Thailand and other Indochinese countries. The fee for crossing the bridge for a car or pick-up truck is 50 baht.
    bangkok post

  2. #2
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    No agreement yet on new Thai-Lao bridge

    Entry fees, traffic rules pose problems

    By Amornrat Mahitthirook
    The countdown for the opening of the new Thai-Lao bridge linking Mukdahan and Savannakhet has begun, but agencies have yet to reach a legal agreement to regulate transnational traffic. The 1.6km-long, two-lane bridge, which was completed on Dec 2, is part of the so-called East-West Corridor linking Burma-Thailand-Laos-Vietnam. While the bridge makes land transport between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam technically possible, some legal problems remain.
    Songsak Phaecharoen, acting director-general of the Highways Department, said Thailand and Laos have yet to agree on bilateral entry fees and traffic rules for different types of vehicles to cross the bridge.
    Laos has yet to agree with Vietnam on how to regulate traffic between the countries. However, negotiations between Thailand and Laos are making better progress than those between Laos and Vietnam.
    Vehicles run on the left in Thailand and on the right in Laos and Vietnam.
    Laos is not so concerned about the difference because its traffic is light. On the contrary, Vietnam, with heavy traffic, finds the issue more worrying.
    At present, Vietnam won't let traffic from Thailand through Laos to enter its roads at random. For road safety, authorities still want traffic to enter in convoys escorted by road patrol cars.
    Mr Songsak said Thai and Lao authorities were settling the regulatory details, which would hopefully be completed in time for the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the Thai and Lao prime ministers when Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh visits Thailand today, just before the bridge opening on Wednesday.
    So far, informal agreement has been reached on some points. For example, Thailand and Laos possess their respective sides of the bridge. The part they own is on each side of the bridge's apex, where plaques are attached. Both sides will form a committee to take charge of protection and maintenance of the bridge. Vehicles will drive on the right while on the bridge and the traffic changeover will take place on the Thai side. Highways Department sources said Thailand proposes entry fees equal to those at the first Thai-Lao bridge that links Nong Khai province and Vientiane. There, entry fees range from 20 baht for cars up to 300 baht for anything over 10 wheels

    bangkok post

  3. #3
    ding ding ding
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    How much for farangs?

  4. #4
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    It will be interesting to see how Mukdahan profits from this new bridge. I was there last year and was amazed at all the facelifting being done. A beautiful promenade on the river front, old buildings cleaned up, utilities buried, etc. All this while Nakhon Phanom simply fades away.

    Oh, and while you're crossing the bridge, remember that it looked like this at one time:



    Note the collapsed middle span....

  5. #5
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    Mukdahan _ Villagers gathered on the banks of the Mekong river near the second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge yesterday to worship the Naga, a mythical serpent believed to be the guardian of the river. They performed Buddhist and Brahman rituals to worship the Naga and ask the creature to bless the new bridge set to open today.
    Local artists chanted a traditional Isan poem to please the gods which protect people living along the Mekong River.
    These residents deeply respect the Naga. Therefore, before beginning any activity which affects the river, they pay their respects to, and seek permission from, the sacred creature, said Mukdahan Governor Boonsom Pirinyawong, who chaired the ceremony.
    Thai and Lao people share the belief that the divine serpent inhabits the river. Many people also believe the Naga created the Mekong when the creature snaked southward from the north of Thailand and Laos several centuries ago.
    The Naga worshipping ceremony was held on the eve of the opening ceremony of the bridge that links this northeastern province with Savannakhet province in Laos.
    The bridge is part of efforts to open transport links in Southeast Asia under a scheme sponsored by the Asian Development Bank. The bridge connects with Road 9 in southern Laos to Vietnam. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside over the opening ceremony together with Lao Vice-President Boungnang Vorachit.

    The first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge over the Mekong links Nong Khai and Vientiane, the Lao capital. Its construction was financed by Australia and the bridge was opened in 1994.
    Spanning the Mekong, the new bridge, which received financing from Japan, is 12 metres wide and 1.6km long.
    Attending the bridge opening ceremony today are 250 delegates from Thailand and 250 from Laos. Among the dignitaries will be Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont and his Lao counterpart Bouasone Bouphavanh.
    The princess and Mr Boungnang will push electronic buttons to lift a veil covering the bridge's nameplate at 10.30am after hearing reports from Gen Surayud and Mr Bouasone. After that the princess will spend a few hours in Savannakhet before returning to Thai soil at 1.30pm.
    Both Mukdahan and Savannakhet provincial authorities also plan grand celebrations for the new friendship bridge.
    Mukdahan has planned a celebration over three days and three nights, beginning today, the governor said.
    Savannakhet has been holding an eight-day celebration. The celebration began on Sunday and will end next Sunday. Part of the celebration is a trade expo and market on a large area 4km from the foot of the bridge on the Lao side.
    However, after today's official opening, the bridge will not open for transnational traffic until next month, according to the Highways Department's acting director-general Songsak Phaecharoen.
    Thailand and Laos have to sign a bilateral agreement regarding regulations for bridge operations and traffic rules before it can be used for cross-border activities.
    Mr Songsak said Thai and Lao authorities had settled some regulatory details, including the entry fees for different types of vehicles. However, the agreement must be approved by the government of each country before taking effect.

    bangkok post

  6. #6
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    MUKDAHAN
    Big crowds for opening of second bridge


    But 1.6-km link won't be ready for vehicle crossings till next year



    Crowds of people on the Thai and Lao banks of the Mekong River in Mukdahan and Savan-nakhet celebrated the opening yesterday of the second Friendship Bridge.

    HRH Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Lao Vice President Bounnhang Vorachith jointly presided over the opening ceremony, pushing electronic bottoms to mark the opening of the 1.6km bridge across Southeast Asia's longest river.

    However, the bridge will not open for service until Thailand and Laos reach agreement on traffic flow and legal aspects of its operation. Traffic will cross the bridge next year.

    Until then the bridge will serve as a tourist site, a Thai official said. Visitors will be allowed to walk on the bridge to enjoy the river view.

    Laos is holding celebrations for a week, while there will be festivities for three days on the Thai side.

    Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said the bridge would serve transportation needs and boost economic development of the whole region.

    The bridge links key routes from Burma via Thailand and Laos to Vietnam, and opens a passage to China, Japan and the Koreas, he said.

    Lao Premier Bouasone Bouphavanh said the bridge would turn Laos from a landlocked country to one able to take up a significant role in regional development.

    The bridge was a symbol of cooperation between Thailand, Laos and Japan, he said.

    "We promise to maximise utility of the bridge for development as much as possible," he said.

    Bouasone also expressed

    regret at the loss of lives - of a Japanese engineer and local workers - while the bridge was being built last year.

    The Japan Bank for Inter-national Cooperation provided an 8-billion-yen loan (Bt2.4 billion) for construction of the bridge.

    It is a part of the Greater Mekong Sub-region's East-West Corridor project. Thailand and Laos share ownership of the bridge and equal portions of the Japanese loan.

    Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Katsuhito Asano said during the opening Japan was committed to further cooperation with countries in the Mekong region, notably Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Vietnam.

    The Mekong region was a priority and Japan would extend Official Development Assistance for countries in the region for the next three years.

    "In addition, Japan will extend US$4 million (Bt143 million) for Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Vietnam," he said.

    Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Tan Dung also attended the opening as a special guest, as Vietnam is considered a key element of the East-West Corridor project.
    Strategic planners for the project hope Vietnam's port in central Danang province will play a significant role in transporting and shipping goods from Thailand and Laos to the Pacific.

    Supalak Ganjanakhundee

    The Nation
    Mukdahan

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog View Post
    MUKDAHAN

    Until then the bridge will serve as a tourist site, a Thai official said. Visitors will be allowed to walk on the bridge to enjoy the river view.
    woopifuckndoo!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    "We promise to maximise utility of the bridge for development as much as possible," he said.
    So now it is being used as a picnic spot for the locals

  9. #9
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    Lao girls place hopes on bridge

    ANUCHA CHAROENPO
    Savannakhet _ Female sex workers here are hoping business improves after the second Thai-Lao friendship bridge linking Thailand's Mukdahan and this southern Lao border province opens for actual use next month. They believe the bridge will attract people from all over the world to their town, including the 84 nightspots where they work.

    Even though prostitution is considered illegal in the country, some illiterate and poor Lao women have taken up the job because they lack other means to make an income.

    An unofficial survey of health workers in this province found that around 300-400 Lao women are working as sex workers. Most are natives while some are from other nearby Lao provinces such as Vientiane, Khammoune and Borikhamxai. Many Vietnamese women are also here.

    Kaewmala Seehajit, a 30-year-old sex worker of Ban Phak Pathumporn Resort, has been in the trade for 10 years.

    She is the breadwinner for her family that includes a seven-year-old daughter and aging parents.

    ''I have to work as a sex worker as I have no education and am poor,'' Mrs Kaewmala said.

    She is among 25 sex workers at the resort, and earns about 1,500-2,000 baht a night.

    Her income, she said, was not enough to cope with the rising cost of living.

    ''When the second Thai-Lao friendship bridge opens to the public next month I will have a chance to make money from more customers,'' she said.

    Most customers were Thai and Lao truck drivers, businessmen and tourists. She occasionally went out with foreign tourists from western countries.

    ''Over the past few months the number of customers has dropped. Some nights I do not have even a single customer. I don't know what's happening to the province's tourism,'' she said.

    Another sex worker at Dao Rung restaurant, Oui Chaiyawong, 28, said she was saving money to send to her parents in Vientiane.

    ''My parents are building a new house there,'' she said.

    Oui has been working as a sex worker for three years. She makes 4,000-5,000 baht per night going out with at least two customers.

    Suk Pangkaewmolee, 32, a madam at Rung Thip restaurant, said all sex workers under her care dreamed of making more money after the bridge opened.

    She said many restaurants and resorts had been done up to welcome tourists who may visit or stop over en route to Vietnam via Highway No. 9, which cuts through the province.
    However, the sex workers were concerned over the possible outbreak of sexual diseases, especially HIV/Aids. Many attended a workshop organised by Thai and Lao health officials and the Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand this week to learn how to protect themselves. Panom Phongmany, deputy director of Savannakhet Provincial Health Department, said sex workers must demand their customers use a condom.
    bangkok post

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    She makes 4,000-5,000 baht per night going out with at least two customers.
    bloody hell.

  11. #11
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    Open for Sex Traffic first, cars trucks and lorries next year

    You could not make it up.

  12. #12
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    Must be from ex-pat workers - Chinese, Japanese or farang. Certainly no locals have dosh like that.

    I wonder what's going to happen to Savannakhet. The bridge is about 1 or 2km north of the town and actually bypasses the place to hit the main road to Vietnam. I was there earlier this year and there's certainly a lot of activity where the roads meet up. In the town, however, it's just as sleep as ever. They've paved over the old square, which is a shame as now it's just ugly. Otherwise, nothing seems to be happening at all.
    The truth is out there, but then I'm stuck in here.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    She is among 25 sex workers at the resort, and earns about 1,500-2,000 baht a night.
    Her income, she said, was not enough to cope with the rising cost of living.
    Total and utter bollocks.

  14. #14
    Have you got any cheese Thetyim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helicopter
    Total and utter bollocks.
    Agreed
    Also neither the resort nor the restaurant show up on a google.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thetyim View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Helicopter
    Total and utter bollocks.
    Agreed
    Also neither the resort nor the restaurant show up on a google.
    I guess you will have to ask around when you get there, then.....

  16. #16
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    East-West Corridor

    South-east Asian Highway Hits Roadblock in Burma
    Marwaan Macan-Markar

    BANGKOK, Aug 31, 2010 (IPS) - With its thick forest cover and abundant wildlife, the Dawna mountain range in south-eastern Burma is coming in the way of a flagship highway project being pushed by one of Asia’s premier financiers of roads.

    The still-to-be-built 40-kilometre stretch to go across the mountain in military-ruled Burma is key to making the Asian Development Bank’s (AsDB) East-West Corridor a reality. It is part of the Manila-based bank’s 1,450-km long highway, billed to facilitate easier transport of goods and services across mainland South-east Asia.

    The planned road will link the already completed 18-km road and a 200-km highway on either side of the mountain in that corner of Burma, also known as Myanmar. The AsDB’s blueprint seeks to connect the Burmese port city of Moulmein, on the Andaman Sea, with the Vietnamese city of Da Nang, on the coast of the South China Sea.

    But this short distance of asphalt will test the bank’s commitment to keeping environmental and social costs to a minimum in the projects that are part of the economic integration agenda of its Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Programme.

    "The area they have chosen to build the road is a part of the mountain with forests and wildlife," said Naing Htoo, Burma project coordinator for Earthrights International, a U.S-based green lobby. "It will result in increasing logging of teak and killing wildlife."

    In addition, the ethnic Karen who live in the area where the road will run through feat that it would make it easier for more Burmese troops to come in to combat the Karen National Union, a rebel force that has been waging a separatist war for six decades.

    "The Dawna mountain area has a KNU presence and bringing in Burmese troops will result in more militarisation and abuse," Naing Htoo told IPS. "There are already signs of such violations, as land owned by locals close to the road’s route has been confiscated."

    For now, concerns that road construction will also result in rights violations such as forced labour, which the Burmese regime has been accused of, appears unfounded. "Since February 2007 some 430 (forced labour) complaints have been received from all over the country, however no complaints have been received alleging forced labour in respect to the East-West corridor highway project," Steve Marshall, head of the International Labour Organisation’s Burma office, told IPS.

    The AsDB is taking cover behind its non-involvement in providing direct funds to Burma to sidestep the questions that environmentalists and human rights activists are raising about the road across the Dawana range. The bank has stopped development funding in Burma for the past two decades due to the country’s financial and political troubles.

    "ADB has not provided any direct assistance to Myanmar for over 20 years, and ADB has no plans to provide any new direct assistance to Myanmar," said Pradeep Srivastava, a senior regional cooperation specialist at the bank, in an e- mail interview. "Since ADB does not operate in Mynamar, questions about the East-West Economic Corridor or other matters within the country can be best answered by officials in Myanmar."

    Likewise, any hint of a policy change by the bank to fund an infrastructure project in Burma would be met by opposition from the United States and the European Union (EU), which enjoy sufficient clout in the AsDB’s operations.

    "Infrastructure development in a conflict area like the highway project is certain to be met by strong opposition from the U.S. government and many EU countries," said Yuki Akimoto, co-director of the Tokyo-based Burma Information Network – Japan, which monitors the work of international financial institutions. "It may be difficult to abide by the ADB’s own environmental and social safeguard policies."

    "The Burma stretch is key to the realisation of the East- West Economic Corridor," she said in an interview. "The ADB has been encouraging other entities to help build that stretch. As such, Thailand has been helping build part of the highway and Japan has been very keen on it, too."

    The bank’s GMS programme began in 1992 to promote economic growth in the six countries that share the Mekong River, South-east Asia’s largest body of water. These are Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

    By 2005, over 10 billion U.S. dollars worth of investments had poured in to finance the building of roads, bridges, airports, seaports, power lines and hotels across this sub-region. Loans for the transport sector from the bank and other funders topped that amount, accounting for nearly half, or 4.8 billion U.S. dollars.

    But projects such as the transport corridor will have "costs that go with the project," said Avilash Roul, executive director of the NGO Forum on the ADB, a Manila- based watchdog of the bank. "Based on its studies, the ADB admits that the road project will increase the threat of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, avian flu, human and wildlife trafficking, and degradation of environment and natural resources."

    "From the ground, local communities claim that they were not consulted about the project," he explained in an interview, echoing a complaint that villagers in the Burma stretch of the transport corridor have made to activists.

    "Local communities were never consulted when the first phase of the highway in Myamnar was being built and they have not been approached for the phase across the mountain," said Naing Htoo. "Workers in rubber plantations and fruit farmers have lost their livelihoods."

    ipsnews.net

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