Deputy PM opens new highway in Borikhamxay Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence, Lieutenant General Douangchay Phichit, yesterday opened the new 274km National Road No 1D linking northeastern Laos to the central region. Lieutenant General Douangchay Phichit cuts a ribbon to open the new road. The new highway links Meuang Khoun in Xieng Khuang province to Road No 8 in Borikhamxay, which links with Road No 13 South and the Vietnam border. The cost of construction was estimated at US$144 million. The Army Engineering Department of the Lao People's Army began building the asphalt road in 2008. The work started in Namlinsoung village in Khoun district, Xieng Khuang province, with the new road cutting through to Phakha village in Viengthong district, Borikhamxay province. Workers are also building Road No 4B over a distance of 81km to connect both the capitals of Borikhamxay and Xieng Khuang via Road No 1D. This road is now more than 90 percent complete, linking Pakxan to Road No 1D. Improvements to the road network in Borikhamxay province will provide a better link to Vietnam, which will facilitate agricultural exports. From the point where Road No 1D links with Road No 8 in Khamkeut district, it is about 70km to the Laos-Vietnam border. Construction has also begun on a 60km road from Road No 1D in Viengthong district to Xaychamphone district. Once complete, the road linking Vienthong with the Vietnamese border in Xaychamphone will further reduce travel distances for some people to 60 kilometres. This road is scheduled to be finished in 2016. The expansion of the road network is making a huge difference to travel between Laos and Vietnam. At present people travelling from Vientiane to northern Vietnam have to make a lengthy detour eastwards via Khamkeut district in Borikhamxay province, over a total distance of about 350km. An additional benefit of the new roads is that people will have better access to markets, making it easier for them to sell their produce. Trade will be boosted significantly, particularly between the people of the province and Vietnam. Increased traffic volume along the road to Vietnam will also provide opportunities for locals to run businesses such as hotels, restaurants and petrol stations. Borikhamxay currently imports dried and fresh seafood, electronic products, fertilisers, fuel and construction materials from Vietnam and exports maize, horses, cattle and furniture products to the neighbouring country. Many Lao students are studying in Vietnam, and travel home via Khamkeut district in Borikhmamxay province after their end-of-year exams when schools close for almost two months. In early July it is common to see many Lao students taking buses from Vietnam to Laos. From Vientiane Times 4th April 2013.