Asian Highway to Link India, Myanmar, and Thailand

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three-nation-asian-highway-1441002579-51721390A new section of the planned Asian highway linking India, Myanmar, and Thailand has become operational. The 25.6 kilometer roadway will reduce travel time between Thinggan Nyenaung and Kawkareik from three hours to 45 minutes.

The newly opened section of the highway is located in the East-West economic corridor of the Greater Mekong Subregion (a development project implemented in 1992 by the World Development Bank and consisting of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Yunnan Province, China). It is hoped that the road will help to further grow trade between Myanmar and Thailand and build stronger relationships between the people in the region.

Construction on the Asian highway began in 2012 and, once completed, the road system will stretch 3,200 kilometers from Moreh in India to Thailand’s Maesot via Myanmar’s Tamu, Mandalay, and Myawaddy. The new road is part of the Asian Highway Project, which is a cooperative project between Asian and European countries, as well as the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, to work together on improving the region’s highway systems.

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Present at the opening ceremony were Myanmar’s Vice President U Nyan Tun, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, and Chairman of the Kayin National Union General Saw Mutu Sae Po.

Infrastructure on track

In addition to the opening of the new highway section, a cornerstone laying ceremony was also held for the building of the Myanmar-Thailand Friendship Bridge No.2, which will link Maesot, Thailand and Myawdaddy, Myanmar.

The highway is but one of many large-scale infrastructure projects ongoing, or in the planning stages, in the region. As foreign investment continues to pour in, infrastructure across the area is improving by leaps and bounds. In addition to improving the road systems, countries are also moving quickly to improve their railway systems, a key form of transportation in Asia but currently suffering from a lack of modern technology and new routes.

For example, in a bid to improve its links with Southeast Asia, China plans to build a high-speed railway to Singapore. The railway will run from China’s southern provincial capital of Kunming, in Yunnan, to Laos’ capital Vientiane, before continuing on through Thailand. The trains will then travel through Bangkok and onward to Malaysia before ending up in Singapore. This latter section, running from Thailand to Singapore, is already operational and continues to be upgraded. The main rail project is slated for completion by 2020, with line expansions into Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam planned for the future.

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Once finished, the China-Singapore railway will form part of the ambitious Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) initiative, which began in the 1960s and started taking shape after 18 countries signed an agreement in November 2006. When complete, the TAR network will involve a continuous 14,000 kilometer railway track, linking Singapore to Turkey, with the possibility of further links into Africa and Europe at later dates.


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