Thailand, Cambodia plan more border crossings, rail link
published : 19 Dec 2015 at 15:49
writer: Patsara Jikkham
Thailand and Cambodia agreed on Saturday to open more border checkpoints and expressed hope that their capitals would be connected by train by next year.
The two countries will open two new checkpoints between Sa Kaeo and Banteay Meanchey provinces but the opening date has not been set. The locations will be at Nong Ian-Stung Bot and Ban Pa Rai-O'Neang, said a statement released after a joint cabinet meeting at Government House.
The new checkpoints will ease congestion at the Aranyaprathet-Poipet crossing, the main tourism and trade connection between the two countries.
The checkpoint between Nong Ian and Stung Bot is expected to be upgraded first as it was named by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Cambodian Premier Hun Sen in their joint news conference.
A bridge needs to be built across a waterway at Ban Nong Ian, also in Aranyaprathet district. Gen Prayut said the construction could be completed next year.
The Thai cabinet on Tuesday approved a loan of 928 million baht to Cambodia to help fund the improvements. The loan has a preferential interest rate of 2% and a repayment term is 25 years, with a 10-year grace period..
The two countries also will restore their rail connection and plan a rail link between the two capitals next year.
"Train service between Bangkok and Phnom Penh would start operation by the end of 2016," the statement said.
The track between Ban Khlong Luek in Aranyaprathet and Poipet in Cambodia has been out of service since the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia 40 years ago. Previously, the countries had been connected by rail from Aranyaprathet and Sisophon.
The State Railway of Thailand is now rehabilitating the tracks from Aranyaprathet to the border. Gen Prayut said the railway would be reconnected by mid-2016.
The two leaders also pledged to promote their special economic zones at the border between Aranyaprathet and Banteay Meanchey, and between Trat and Koh Kong.
Hun Sen was in Bangkok for his first official visit in 12 years, which also marked the 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties. The two countries agreed on Friday to bolster trade and investment. His two-day visit ended on Saturday.
- Thai-Cambodian relations