Myanmar road project hooks B1.8bn

Myanmar road project hooks B1.8bn

Highway expansion started in Mae Sot district, Tak, in December.
Highway expansion started in Mae Sot district, Tak, in December.

The government is stepping up efforts to boost the Yangon-Mae Sot trade link by approving a 1.8-billion-baht budget to help Myanmar develop part of its road along the transnational route.

The cabinet backed plans to improve the 68km section of the road linking Endu and Thaton in southern Myanmar, for the sake of better transport, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said yesterday.

Traffic lanes will be expanded, among other works to make the road more travel-friendly, he said.

Once completed, the road will help stimulate trade and investment in Thailand's Mae Sot and Myanmar's Yangon, he added.

Mae Sot is a remote district in the western province of Tak which is adjacent to Myanmar. It is among the border areas in 10 provinces which the government wants to develop into special economic zones, known as SEZs.

Authorities aim to promote industrial estates in these areas, generating investment and jobs as well as exports to neighbouring countries.

While Mae Sot is a key border district, Yangon is an economic centre of Myanmar, playing a major role in distributing goods to other parts of the country, Mr Arkhom said, stressing the need to boost transport between Mae Sot and Yangon.

The Yangon-Mae Sot trade link is also, on a macro scale, part of an ambitious plan to develop the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), which stretches from India to Vietnam via Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, he said.

Other parts of the route between Yangon and Mae Sot have been improved, or are in a process of development. They include a section of road in Myawaddy, where construction under a 1.3-billion-baht budget was finished last year.

The development of another 67km section connecting Koh Karek and Endu is also gaining momentum after Myanmar secured a loan from the Asian Development Bank, according to the minister.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak will visit Myanmar over the next two days to discuss further measures to promote trade and investment, Mr Arkhom said.

Besides the infrastructure, cabinet has also agreed with preparations to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding with Myanmar under the Greater Mekong Subregion Cross-Border Transport Agreement, to allow passenger buses and goods trucks to drive through the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border pass without intermediary stops that can be time-consuming.

The MoU is expected to be ready for signing by December, Mr Arkhom said.

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