Hanoi – Vietnam has got better connected with other countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) thanks to a wide range of projects on transport infrastructure development conducted within this cooperation framework.
Vietnam is the only country in the GMS that has participated in all three economic corridors. They include the north-south corridor that connects Vietnam with China, the east-west to link Thua Thien-Hue province and Da Nang city in the central region with Laos and all the way to Thailand and Myanmar and finally the southern one bridging HCM City with Phnom Penh and Bangkok.
According to Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho, with financial aid from sponsors, especially the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and concerted efforts, Vietnam has been completing works within these important connectivity corridors. Connecting with China, Vietnam put the Kunming – Lao Cai – Hanoi – Hai Phong expressway into use in December 2015.
Notably, the Hanoi – Lao Cai expressway with a total length of 264 km and investment of 1.2 billion USD sourced from the ADB was considered a strategic part of the Kunming – Lao Cai – Hanoi – Hai Phong road corridor under the cooperation programme between the six GMS countries, namely Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and China.
The expressway, the longest of its kind in Vietnam, was put into operation in September 2014 as part of the North – South Economic Corridor (NSEC), helping reduce travel time between Hanoi and the northern border province of Lao Cai from seven to three hours and facilitating the transport of goods.
It is not only important to Vietnam but also the whole GMS region by changing the economic panorama of localities in northern Vietnam and southern China through enhancing transport connectivity, trade exchanges, investment and tourism cooperation.
The Nanning – Lang Son – Hanoi – Hai Phong and Hai Phong – Ha Long – Van Don – Mong Cai – Pingxiang expressways are set to become operational before 2020.
The East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) features Da Nang Port – Dong Ha (along National Road No.1) – Lao Bao International Border Gate – National Road No. 9 of Laos – Thailand – Dawai Port of Myanmar route with a total length of 1,450 km. This is an important corridor that helps shorten road travel time from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean to three hours.
Another route in the east-west corridor running along National Road 217, funded by the ADB, will be completed soon.
On the basis of the east-west corridor linking the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, Vietnam and Laos have put forth an initiative to build another corridor from Myanmar to Laos via Thailand, running along Paksan (Laos) – Thanh Thuy International Border Gate – Vinh (Vietnam’s Nghe An province) section to Vung Ang Port in the central province of Ha Tinh. It is a branch of the Hanoi – Vientiane expressway.
To connect with Cambodia, the Southern Economic Corridor (Southern Coastal Corridor – SCC) has been built with the ADB’s support. Vietnam and Cambodia have signed an agreement on accelerating the construction of the 180-km Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh expressway. The route runs from Ho Chi Minh City through Cai Mep – Thi Vai Port to Phnom Penh and then to Thailand before joining the SCC.
Transport infrastructure development a priority of Vietnam
Addressing a session on infrastructure development and financing as part of the GMS Business Summit in Hanoi on March 30, Vietnamese Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The said infrastructure plays an important role in socio-economic development of a nation and infrastructure development is a priority of many developing countries, including Vietnam.