Thailand is supporting Chinese plans to make the Mekong River navigable for larger ships.
At an estimated length of 4,300km, the Mekong river runs through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Though already an established trade route, plans are in place to boost navigation along a 630km part of the river from China’s Yunnan province to Luang Prabang in Laos.
In the dryer months of March and April, sections of the river can be subject to rapids, making it passable only to smaller vessels. Plans involve the clearing of rocks and small islands along the river to allow ships of up to 500 tons to pass all year round. Cargo and passenger ports will also be built. Thai officials have said that the changes are necessary to improve the safety of transporting goods and people along the river.
Referred to as the golden waterway in China, the first phase of surveys and design plans is due to start imminently, and the project is expected to be completed by 2025.