Route 4 Upgrade New Mekong Bridge


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help finance a transport network improvement project of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) to foster trade and economic growth in its northern region and neighboring countries that make up the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

A $27 million grant from the ADB will partially finance the Northern Greater Mekong Subregion Transport Network Improvement Project, estimated to cost $88.5 million. The balance will be taken up by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), which is providing a loan of $11 million, the Government of Australia through a $14.5 million grant, and the Government of the Republic of Korea, which will extend a $22.4 million loan. The balance will be covered by the Government of Lao PDR.

ADB will manage the assistance from the Government of Australia and OFID, a multilateral financial facility formed by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to channel aid to developing countries.

The project will improve 367 kilometers of Route 4 from Xiang Ngeun in northern Lao PDR (near Louangphrabang) to Nakha, which sits at the border the country shares with Thailand. The project also involves the construction of a bridge over the Mekong River as part of the project road and the improvement of some 100 kilometers of rural access roads. The project will also provide financing for improvement of road safety along the project road and throughout the country, periodic maintenance of the national road network, and a program to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and human trafficking that may develop during the improvement and operation of the road.

“The project will increase trade and economic growth in the northern part of Lao PDR and the surrounding region through more efficient transport on the regional and national road networks,” said Jeffrey Miller, principal transport specialist for ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

Lao PDR is pivotal to the Greater Mekong Subregion transport corridors linking northern Thailand, northern Vietnam and the southern provinces of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Greater Mekong Subregion is composed of countries sharing the Mekong River, namely, Cambodia, PRC, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The project will form part of the new Greater Mekong Subregion Northeastern Corridor (encompassing Nanning in Guangxi Province, PRC; Hanoi and Thanh Hoa in Viet Nam; Louangphrabang, Lao PDR; and Bangkok, Thailand).

Geographical isolation is a major cause of poverty in Lao PDR, as large segments of the rural population have little access to markets, employment opportunities or social services. The project area includes seven districts of Louangphrabang and Xaignabouri provinces in northern Lao PDR, which is generally poorer than other regions of the country. Agriculture remains the key source of income and livelihood for most of the population in the project area.

Upgrading the project road to an all-weather road providing year-round access will enable lower cost transport services and facilitate greater exports from the project area. The improved road will encourage the development of tourism and other service industries in the project area by providing suitable road conditions for tourists traveling from Thailand to Louangphrabang.