Saturday, December 22, 2007

Second bridge link with Thailand opens

JELI: The relationship between Malaysia and Thailand received a major boost yesterday when the second bridge linking both countries was officially opened.

The RM9.2mil bridge, spanning 120m across Sungai Golok, took 11 months to complete.

Both countries split the cost equally, with the project given to a Malaysian contractor.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who opened the bridge with his Thai counterpart Surayud Chulanont, said he was confident the new link would contribute to the relationship between both countries.

New landmark: A Thai boatman pushing his boat at Sungai Golok as the Thai and Malaysian Prime Ministers Surayud Chulanont and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (inset) launch the second bridge between Kelantan and Narathiwat. — Reuters
“I am confident the new link between Bukit Bunga (Jeli) and Bau Buketa (Narathiwat) will contribute towards further enhancing the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between our two countries and people, especially between the residents of Kelantan and Narathiwat,” he said.

He also said the bridge was a project identified for implementation under the Joint Development Strategy for the border areas established in 2004.

Abdullah added that with the second bridge, which has an average of 100 people crossing it daily, the people of Kelantan would enjoy the benefits directly and immediately.

“This fact relates well to the special effort that the Malaysian Government is now undertaking to make Kelantan a new focal point for the development of the economy and social affairs, including the development of human capital.

“Kelantan is one of the states earmarked for growth and accelerated development under the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) corridor,” said Abdullah.

He also said that Kelantan, Perlis, Kedah and Perak were designated areas under the development blueprints for the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), and he invited Thailand to invest in it.

Abdullah also said Malaysia was aware that Thailand was working hard to promote reconciliation and establish peace and stability in southern Thailand, and that Malaysia was always ready to give its full support to the Thai Government.

Surayud said the bridge was very important in fostering closer ties between both countries.

“This is historic because it is built at a time when we are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic ties between Thailand and Malaysia.”

He added that the bridge, the second across Sungai Golok, would be a boost to the ECER and would also improve economic growth and the transportation system in the border areas.

Later, after performing Friday prayers at the Jeli mosque, Abdullah presented a cheque for RM300,000 to the mosque for renovations.

He also urged Muslims to pray for the flood victims and hoped they would get new homes soon.