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New Thailand-Burma Friendship Bridge ‘ready in two years’

A Burmese soldier stands guard on the original Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge over the Moei River, the border between the two countries, in March 1997. (Photo: Reuters)

The construction of a second Thai­-Burma Friendship Bridge is expected to be completed in two years, Thai Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said.

The bridge, which will link Mae Sot district in Tak province with the town of Myawaddy in Burma’s Karen State, will help boost the economies and tourism industries of both countries, he added.

He was speaking after presiding over the bridge’s foundation­laying ceremony yesterday with Burmese Construction Minister Win Khaing.

The second Thai-­Burma Friendship Bridge is scheduled to open to the public in 2019, he said.

The bridge will cater to increased traffic volumes in the area when economic activity grows in the future, Arkhom said.

The second bridge will also help ease traffic on the first Thai­-Burma Friendship Bridge, he noted, saying the first one is narrow, making it difficult for supplies and goods to be delivered by rail.

Thanin Somboon, deputy director­general for operations at Thailand’s Highways Department, said the Transport Ministry proposed two construction plans to the cabinet for consideration.

The first plan involves the construction of the second Thai-­Burma Friendship Bridge crossing the Moei River.

The second plan is associated with developing special economic zones along the border areas between Thailand and neighbouring countries and building a trade services centre and a logistics centre near the bridge, he said.

The cabinet allocated a budget of 3.9 billion baht ($113 million) to the department to conduct a feasibility study, designing and erecting the second bridge, and building a road that links the bridge to border areas in the two countries, Thanin said.

The second friendship bridge will encourage increased trading activity along the East-­West Economic Corridor route, he added.

The second Thai­-Burma Friendship Bridge is part of the Mae­Sot Bypass Road construction project which will start from the Highway No 12, crossing the Moei/Thaungyin River at Ban Wang Takien in Tambon Tha Sai Luad of Mae­ Sot district to connect to a village in Myawaddy.