The GMS Northeastern Corridor (stretching from Thanh Hoa in northern Viet Nam through northern Lao PDR to Bangkok) is one of the corridors identified in the transport sector
strategy study and links northeastern Lao PDR with northern Viet Nam and its seaports. Many of the corridor roads between Thanh Hoa and Bangkok are in good condition. Others are now being improved, including a 367-kilometer (km) stretch of Route 4 in the Lao PDR from the Louangphrabang area to the Lao PDR Thailand border that is being upgraded under ADB's Northern GMS Transport Network Improvement Project, approved in 2007. The section of the corridor between the coast through the provinces of Thanh Hoa in northern Viet Nam and Houaphanh in northeastern Lao PDR, however, needs to be improved to a higher, all-weather, international standard if the Northeastern Corridor is to deliver its full potential increase in traffic, trade, and economic development and give the northern region of the Lao PDR valuable yearround access to rapidly developing ports on the South China Sea. The proposed project will fill this key gap. It was accorded priority in the GMS transport sector study and is strongly supported by the governments of the Lao PDR and Viet Nam, which believe it will strengthen the economies of both countries and help reduce current high poverty rates in the project provinces on both sides of their border. The project is included in the GMS regional cooperation business plan for 2010 2012.
Road maintenance and vehicle overloading are key issues affecting the sustainability of road projects in Viet Nam and the Lao PDR. Both governments have agreed to maintain the
project roads to the national standard. In Lao PDR, this will be done through the use of performance-based maintenance contracts. In Viet Nam, performance-based maintenance
contracts will also be used for the project road, subject to the successful outcome of ongoing pilot tests of these contracts. MOT will develop a program to control vehicle overloading of vehicles on the project road in Viet Nam. To address vehicle overloading in the Lao PDR, scales for weighing vehicles will be procured under the project, and checkpoints to control the overloading of vehicles will be established along the project roads.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The poor state of such basic infrastructure as roads is a major obstacle to building subregional economic cooperation among the six countries that border the Mekong River.
Under the GMS program, which it helped establish in 1992, ADB has supported the creation of strategic transport and economic corridors linking Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, the Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. After a summit of GMS leaders in July 2005 highlighted the key role of comprehensive, efficient cross-border transport in promoting trade, investment, resource development and sharing, and the free movement of goods and people between their countries, ADB provided technical assistance to prepare the GMS transport sector strategy study. The study recommended the establishment of a seamless, well-built, multimodal subregional transport network to fully connect the GMS. The sector strategy's objectives were to complete the transport corridors; coordinate GMS country efforts to develop these transport routes into economic corridors of agricultural diversification, industrialization, and employment creation; reduce nonphysical barriers to the movement of people, goods, and services within the subregion; and accelerate the implementation of such arrangements as the GMS cross-border transport agreement.
The GMS cross-border transport agreement was incorporated in the GMS program in 1999 to support trade facilitation. The agreement covers various aspects of cross-border
transport facilitation in the GMS. All the GMS countries have finalized and signed all annexes and protocols in the agreement, and most countries have ratified all of the annexes and
protocols. The agreement is already under initial implementation at three border crossing points along the Lao PDR Viet Nam, Thailand Lao PDR, and PRC Viet Nam borders. Agreements have been signed on additional border crossings for implementation along the PRC Lao PDR and Cambodia Viet Nam borders.