MUMBAI - More pieces of the ambitious 141,204-kilometer Asian Highway network slotted into place this month as Vietnam completed its section linking Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. Do Ngoc Dung, vice director general of the My Thuan Project Management Unit (PMU), announced completion of the work. The US$144.77 million construction bill was partly financed by the Asian Development Bank.
The $44 billion Asian Highway network weaves through 32 countries, connects Asia with Europe, and promises to boost regional economies by facilitating trade and tourism through its linkage of Asian seaports, airports and major tourist destinations. It also fleshes out dreams of a Pan-Asian community with a common socio-political-economic identity analogous to the European Union.
"There is a 12-20% [increase in the growth of gross domestic product associated] with greater investment in highways in India," said A Veeraragavan, a professor with the leading Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and one of the country's top experts in highway engineering. "The GDP growth rate may vary from Asian country to country, but the bottom line is [there are] more advantages with better highways, from saving lives lost in traffic accidents to economic benefits."