Ceremony marks 30th anniversary of 1st Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge

SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2024

Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, on Sunday co-hosted a Ceremony to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge (Nong Khai-Vientiane).

Parnpree was joined by Saleumxay Kommasith, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of the Lao PDR, and Robyn Mudie, first assistant secretary, Southeast Asia Regional and Mainland Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia.

Jakkapong Sangmanee, Thai deputy minister of foreign affairs, and several ambassadors of ASEAN member states, Timor-Leste and Dialogue Partners of ASEAN also attended the event.

The ceremony marked the beginning of a series of activities to be jointly organised by Nong Khai Province and Vientiane to mark the anniversary.

Ceremony marks 30th anniversary of 1st Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited members of the diplomatic corps in Thailand to join the event to showcase the tourism and economic potentials of Nong Khai and its adjacent provinces, as well as to highlight the strategic importance of the bridge in regional transportation and logistical connectivity.

The First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge is the first bridge over the Mekong River that connects Thailand with the Lao People's Democratic Republic. The value of trade passing through this bridge accounts for more than 33% of the total border trade between Thailand and Laos.

The bridge is therefore the most important channel for cross-border trade between the two countries and has played a crucial role in promoting local economic activities, stimulating investment and creating jobs and income for the population on both sides of the Mekong River.

Ceremony marks 30th anniversary of 1st Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge

The bridge plays a crucial role in connecting the transportation networks of the two countries and the region. It is the only friendship bridge between Thailand and its neighbouring countries that features both road and rail systems.

Thailand and Laos are working on a project to construct a new railway bridge alongside the current bridge in anticipation of future cross-border rail freight that may exceed the capacity of the current rail track on the First Friendship Bridge.

Ceremony marks 30th anniversary of 1st Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge

The project is expected to begin in 2026 and be completed by 2029. Multi-modal transshipment centres will also be developed on both sides of the bridge, at Natha Rail Station on the Thai side, to handle both road and rail freight.

The new railway bridge will also connect with the Thailand's future high-speed rail from Bangkok to Nong Khai province.

After the ceremony, Parnpree also had an opportunity to give an interview to the media on the 30-year commemoration of the bridge, Thai-Lao bilateral relations and cooperation, including Thailand's reaction and action plans towards the situation in Myanmar and the unfolding Israel-Iran situation.