Laos, Vietnam speed up plans for Vientiane-Hanoi expressway
Laos and Vietnam have agreed to take the next steps to start construction of an expressway linking the capitals of Vientiane and Hanoi this year.
The agreement was reached at a bilateral meeting held in Hanoi on Tuesday between Laos’ Ministry of Public Works and Transport and Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport, the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) reported, citing the Vietnam News Agency.
Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong led the Lao delegation attending the meeting.
The ministries agreed to seek investment and support, firstly to carry out a feasibility study for the expressway.
A senior official at the Lao ministry’s Road and Bridge Department told Vientiane Times yesterday that a primary study had already been carried out.
Citing the primary study, Vietnam’s Thanh Nien News Agency reported previously that the cost of the six-lane 707-kilometre route was estimated at more than US$4.5 billion.
During last week’s meeting, the ministries were also unanimous about the need to coordinate more closely to speed up construction of a railway to connect Vientiane in landlocked Laos with the Vung Ang port in Vietnam’s central province of Ha Tinh, according to the VOV.
In a Memorandum of Understanding on transport cooperation for 2016-2025 signed between the Vietnamese and Lao governments in September 2015, the two sides defined the Hanoi-Vientiane expressway and the Vientiane-Vung Ang railway as strategic projects that needed to be carried out quickly to boost bilateral trade.
These projects are viewed as prerequisites for Laos to become a goods transit centre within the region.
The two ministries also agreed to facilitate the transit of Lao goods through Vung Ang port. They will review the one-stop-shop model at Vietnam’s Lao Bao and Laos’ Densavan border crossing while immediately considering the application of this model at two other border crossings (Cha Lo-Na Phao, and Cau Treo-Namphao) to smooth the way for Lao goods to reach Vung Ang port.
They also planned to set up a joint working group to step up feasibility studies for new roads in Laos and to enhance personnel training and experience sharing.
During a reception for Dr Bounchanh on Tuesday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc pledged that Vietnam would do its best to help Laos, especially with transport development, Vietnam’s Nhan Dan News Agency reported on the day.
He said Vietnam would allow Laos to use Vietnam’s sea ports to further its economic development, and encourage Laos to cooperate with Vietnam in building and exploiting sea ports.
Regarding the Hanoi-Vientiane Expressway, the Vietnamese prime minister agreed that Vietnam would complete a feasibility study for the plan this year, asking the two countries’ ministries of transport to work closely with foreign consultation units to complete the work as soon as possible.
Mr Phuc asked the two countries’ ministries of transport and foreign affairs to review the operation of the one-stop-shop model at border crossings, with a view to facilitating transport between Laos and Vietnam and ensuring security at shared border areas.
For his part, Dr Bounchanh informed his Vietnamese hosts about the cooperation between the two ministries of transport in implementing the guidelines laid down by the two governments at the Vietnam-Laos Intergovernmental Committee’s 39th meeting.
Regarding a project to build a road connecting Luang Prabang province with Vietnam’s Dien Bien province, he said Laos was in the process of selecting contractors to coordinate with Vietnam to accelerate the project.
The two countries’ ministries of transport will also team up to carry out other projects, in line with the directions of the two governments, he added.
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, during the government’s monthly meeting for February, entrusted the relevant Lao ministries to work with their Vietnamese counterparts to push for the implementation of Laos-Vietnam cooperation projects that were approved by the Vietnam-Laos Intergovernmental Committee’s 39th meeting. These include the Vientiane-Hanoi Expressway and the Vung-Ang Seaport project, which landlocked Laos will use as a trade route.