Interconnecting ASEAN member countries via landbridge cum railway project has become an urgent need. It is viable. This article is hereby republished to stress that point.
ASEAN LAND BRIDGES & RAILWAY SYSTEM
Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago
Magandang umaga sa lahat! Good morning to everyone!
This analyst will continue on the ASEAN theme and will focus on road networks & railways for this piece. The region is now preparing the foundations for its conversion into an economic union by 2015, so it would be a productive engagement for citizens of the region to put forward their ideas about how to let the region grow and prosper, such as the idea about land bridges articulated here.
Each member country of ASEAN is now developing infrastructures at different paces, thus rendering each country with gaps in terms of road networks and railways. Such I gap, I believe, can be narrowed if the entire region will conceptualize, design, and begin laying down today the foundations of a region-wide road network.
The grand project can be dubbed as ‘land bridges program’ for the goal it can aspire to attain: that of linking all of the member countries into interfacing and interloping highways. There will be defining expressways in each of the countries that will then be integrated, expanded, and closed gap where certain spaces lack them, thus creating a seamless expressway serving as ‘land bridges’ across the entire region.
Running parallel or inter-linked with the road network would be a gargantuan railway system—of maglev technology—that will be part of the land bridging efforts. Transport hubs can be constructed in certain areas where the road facilities and railway can interface. Each member country can choose to link up its railways (running on electricity and diesel) with the regional maglev to comprise a yet another complex network with awesome potency for stimulating growth.
Such a grand project, which when interlinked further with the Mekong integrated project, will serve as multiplier effect in stimulating growth and development for all of the member countries without exception. The flow of peoples, goods and services, and investments across borders will thus increase by many folds, propelling further the generation of wealth for the union.
With the ASEAN central bank and ASEAN development bank running by 2015 and onwards, it becomes facile to fund the gargantuan land bridges project. The implementers will include private construction & development companies in the region as well as banks that can fund the project’s phases from the side of the private builder-constructors.
The project will enhance the synergy of trucking, train, and shipping down the ground and waters. Such effectively done, there will then be a reduction of moving people and goods by airplanes that can then have greater space for mobility.
The land bridges project can spur more ambitious civil engineering, so that civil works can move on to build tunnels beyond 2 kilometers below the ground. The same engineering efforts can then build tunnels across islands and help to ease out the burdens on ships as the link between island components of the road network.
The same project can also facilitate the inter-connection of the ASEAN to a new ‘silk route’ now rising across the Asian continent. The entry points will be India and China, which the union can cooperate with in building linking infrastructures. With such a possibility turned into reality, one can travel by road and trains from Luzon in the Philippines onwards to the Europe, permitting enjoyment of wonderful landscapes across many lands.
Movements of peoples, goods and services to and from the giant neighbors will also move up by many folds with the land bridge project linked up with the ‘silk route’. Ships and planes can be unburdened a bit by such a twist of development, and can then accommodate more goods & services for other continents and regions.
Regional institutions can be erected to design, manage, and regulate the conduct of construction as well as future traffic along the expressways and the railways flows. There should be transparency and efficiency in the bidding of contracts, so that early enough the governance components of the future political union can already be erected.
It is very likely that the project will be highly welcomed by the peoples of the region. The business sector, notably the constructors & developers, could hardly wait to dip their hands into it as soon as the call for participation by the ASEAN will be in place. It will surely leapfrog the region’s catching up with the developed world and with China, rendering it a potential global economic power in the foreseeable future.
[Philippines, 11 November 2010]
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