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Japanese grant to ease Laos transport
Publication Date : 14-01-2014
The Japanese government, through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to Laos, has agreed to provide a grant for the design of a new bridge in Xekong province.
Xekong is located in the south-east of the country.It is the second smallest province in Laos and also one of its poorest, covering an area of 7,665 square kilometres.
The grant, totalling around US$800,000, will allow for a detailed design of the Xekong bridge project located on National Road No. 16B in southern Laos.
The funding agreement was signed in Vientiane yesterday between the Ministry of Planning and Investment's International and Cooperation Department Director General, Sisomboun Ounavong, and the Chief Representative of JICA Laos Office, Koichi Takei.
The new bridge, which will cross the Xekong River, will function as a domestic and international arterial road connecting Xekong town and Dakcheung.
Currently boats must be used to cross the river; this is not always a reliable form of transport due to the changing water levels.
The bridge is planned to be 300 metres long with a total of more than 500 metres of road access on both sides of the river.
A statement from the Ministry of Planning and Investment said the bridge will remove weather-related barriers and dramatically improve access the Kaleum and Dakcheung districts as well as Sanxay district, Attapeu province, where some of the most impoverished villages in Laos are located.
The statement highlighted the importance of the project in contributing to the continuation of socio-economic development in Laos as it will form an integral part of the National Road No. 16 B, which is a transport alternative to the East-West Economic Corridor that links Thailand and Vietnam.
The Xekong River divides Xekong province on the National Road 16B, and currently people must travel by take ferry boat to go to Dakcheung side, Takei said.
Takei believes the project will positively contribute to socio-economic development and improve the livelihoods of people in Xekong province and surrounding regions.
The project will also help to bring Laos one step closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and graduating from the United Nation's list of Least Development Countries by 2020.
Patients currently find it difficult to cross from the Dakcheung side to the Xekong provincial hospital at night due to the boat transport ending service at 6 pm.
When the bridge construction is completed, Xekong people, particularly those living in Dakcheung district, will be able to access to public facilities such as hospitals, schools and markets year-round, Sisomboun said.
The bridge will also provide better service for local transport and has potential to increase rural development, she added.