The Bago-Kyaikto highway will be connected to the Yangon-Mandalay highway (pictured). / ALwinDigital
Through Nan Lwin November 2, 2020
YANGON — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a loan of 484 million dollars (624.52 billion kyat) for the construction of a new highway linking the region of Bago and the State of Mon, along the East-West Economic Corridor of Japan, a major infrastructure for the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).
The AfDB said the new GMS highway will link Bago, the capital of Bago region, and Kyaikhto in Mon State, strengthening Myanmar’s connectivity with Thailand and other countries along the GMS corridor and promoting the trade, tourism and investment.
As part of Japan’s grand plan for the Mekong sub-region, Myanmar is located on two major economic corridors: the east-west economic corridor connecting the Vietnamese city of Dong Ha to the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of Yangon via Cambodia and Thailand; and the southern economic corridor of central Vietnam, through Cambodia and Thailand to the planned Dawei SEZ in southeast Myanmar.
The East-West Corridor Plan aims to improve connectivity between Bangkok and Yangon and help businesses in the Thai capital expand their supply chains to Yangon and the Thilawa SEZ. Backed by Japan and located on the Yangon River estuary in Myanmar’s trade hub, the Thilawa project is the country’s first SEZ.
ABD said the new highway will include a 2.3 km bridge over the Sittaung River, which will be funded by a loan of about 27.78 billion yen (342.18 billion kyat) from the Japanese agency. International Cooperation (JICA).
The AfDB said the entire project would strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Construction to manage the country’s main toll highways and implement social and environmental safeguards.
A community road safety program for villagers along the Bago-Kyaikhto corridor will also be implemented, the bank said.
JICA has long been considering building an inner highway from Thilawa to Bangkok as a transportation shortcut. Transport routes from Singapore to Thilawa currently span a combined length of 4000 km and take 21 days to negotiate.
To further reduce transportation time, as part of the East-West Economic Corridor, three bridges are already built with JICA support in Karen and Mon states: Gyaing-Kawkareik Bridge, Gyaing-Zathabyin Bridge and Bridge Atran. The agency predicts that it will take a day and a half to transport the goods the 870 km from Thilawa to Bangkok.
In July, the Union dominated by the National League for Democracy (NLD) Parliament approved the loan despite objections from the military and lawmakers from other parties.
In February, Construction Minister U Han Zaw say it The government planned to modernize basic infrastructure and improve urban management in three major cities in Mon and Karen states that lie on the east-west economic corridor with loans of $ 80 million from the AfDB and a $ 23.4 million loan from Thailand’s Neighboring Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA).
The cities proposed to be covered by the GMS Corridor Cities Development Project are the Mon capital of Mawlamyine, the Karen capital of Hpa-an and Myawaddy, a large city on the border with Thailand in Karen State.
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