Thai-Lao bridge service upgrade

The first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge linking Vientiane and Nong Khai will increase services to support the Asean Economic Community next year.

The bridge is one of the checkpoints expected to be especially busy after Laos joins the AEC, the Vientiane Times reported today.

Somlith Phanthachack, deputy director of the bridge's administration, said the management team is developing a border checkpoint area, as well as improving services to meet an anticipated traffic surge after the regional integration.

"We are now improving many sections at the bridge to support the community including infrastructure and services at the bridge," he said.

"Before we had only two lanes of road but now we've increased it to more than four lanes, as well as developing the parking area for big vehicles and trucks," he added.

"There are about 46,000 to 50,000 people making outbound crossings each week, with weekends the most crowded days. Inbound trips are 1,000 less."

"We are trying to increase our staff as well as sending some of them to train on improving the quality and speed of services. However, customers should also know what documents they should bring before crossing the bridge," Mr Somlith said.

The bridge management team is installing scanning machines to process border pass paperwork and passports, to make crossing more convenient for the public.

Officials have also set up a special team for emergencies at night after the bridge is closed. It will operate from 10pm to 6am everyday.

The administration of the bridge have also asked the involved sector for drug scanning machines because sometimes they arrest drug dealers who attempt to smuggle drugs to sell in Thailand, the report said.

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