As the world population grows, governments around the globe build numerous infrastructure project for the convenient of its citizen, and to maximize its economic potentials.
As the foundation of economic activities, Public Infrastructure, needs to become more efficient, and beneficial, to the Governments, to the Business Sector, and to its Citizens.
With the advent of new technological, and engineering advancement, governments are not just building ordinary projects, but also projects, in an extremely large-scale of investment – commonly known as the Mega Projects.
Megaprojects are defined as a large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost $1 billion or more, which take many years to develop, and build, with a vision, to become economically beneficial.
Here in Southeast Asia, as one of the dynamic region with the fastest economic growth, governments have built several mega projects that is expected to boost the region’s economic momentum.
In this article, we will feature the biggest infrastructural project, in each country in Southeast Asia.
Boten – Vientiane High Speed Railway (Laos)
With a cost of more than $5 billion, the Boten – Vientiane High Speed Railway is the most expensive mega project in Lao PDR. Costing $6 billion, the Boten Vientiane Railway is a 414 kilometers standard gauge electrified railway under construction in Laos between the capital Vientiane and the small town of Boten on the border with China.
Construction began in Luang Prabang on 25th December 2016. Work crews started laying track in Laos in March 2020, about 5 years after making ground. The project is expected to be fully completed by December 2021. There are 32 planned stations along the route.
The final station would be Thanaleng station while Xay Village in Xaythany District is to be the site of Vientiane station, the largest station on the railway. The station will consist of four platforms with seven track lines and two additional platforms with three lines reserved.
It is expected to connect with other railway lines planned for Laos. The station will accommodate up to 2,500 passengers with a total area of 14,543 square meters. The project was funded by The Export-Import Bank Of China.
Upon completion, the Boten-Vientiane Railway will form an important part of the 5,500 kilometers Trans-Asia railways which begins in Yunnan’s provincial capital, Kunming and travels to Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia before ending in Singapore as part of China’s Belt and Road initiative.
The East Coast Rail Link (Malaysia)
In Malaysia, The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), is the most expensive infrastructure project. Costing $10.7 billion, ECRL is a standard gauge double track railway link infrastructure project connecting Port Klang on the Straits of Malacca to Kota Bharu in Northeast Peninsula of Malaysia.
ECRL is expected to connect the east coast economic region states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan to one another and to central region of the peninsula’s West Coast with a total length of 640 kilometers.
The ECRL will consist of inter-city passenger train and a freight cargo train. The inter-city passenger trains will use six car train sets travelling at 160 kilometers per hour, cutting travel time from Kota Bharu to Putrajaya and Port Klang to around four and six hours respectively.
The freight cargo trains uses electric locomotives running at 80 kilometers per hour. Estimated ridership stands at 5.4 million by 2030. Construction began in August 2017. The project provides 20 stations comprising 14 passenger stations, five combined passenger and freight stations and one freight station.
The ECRL will be owned by Malaysia Rail Link (MRL), a special purpose vehicle wholly owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated. It will be jointly operated and maintained by a 50/50 joint venture between Malaysia Rail Link and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).
The project forms part of China’s Belt and Road initiative of the 5,500 trans-Asia railways.
Northeastern High-Speed Rail (Thailand)
Going to Thailand, the most expensive project is the Northeastern High-Speed Rail, costing $13.5 billion. The Northeastern High-Speed is a standard gauge double track railway-linked infrastructure project connecting Bangkok to Northeastern part of Thailand in Nong Khai province near the border of Lao.
The dual standard gauge tracks would be laid throughout the project. In Thailand, two routes will diverge at a junction in Kaeng Khoi District in Saraburi Province. One to connect Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi, the other route to connect Keang Khoi with Map Ta Phut in Rayong Province. From Kaeng Khoi, tracks would lead North to Nakhon Ratchasima and on to Nong Khai Province.
The project would be financed by Thailand but China is providing the design and will provide the train and carriages. The Thai government has estimated the project will double the country’s passenger rail capacity with more than 22 million commercial passengers expected annually.
The first 252 kilometer leg from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast was set to carry its first passengers in 2023 but rescheduled to open in 2025. The project forms part of China’s Belt and Road initiative that aims to connect China to Singapore.
From the China’s Belt and Road initiative that takes part of Laos, Malaysia and Thailand projects, we will switch side to airport project in Vietnam.
Long Thanh International Airport (Vietnam)
Long Thanh International Airport, Vietnam biggest project in history, costs $14.5 billion. It’s an under construction airport located approximately 40 kilometers east of Ho Chi Minh city. It covers a total area of more than 5,580 hectares.
The airport will be built in three phases over three decades with downgraded cost of $14.5 billion from $16 billion first estimated cost. In the first phase, one runway with a length of 4,000 meters, Taxiways, an Apron, and a passenger terminal with other auxiliary works sprawling 373,000 square meters will be built to serve 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tons of cargo each year.
The first phase is expected to be completed in 2025 with an investment of $4.7 billion. Terminal 1 was designed by a Korean-based company. It is said to shape like a lotus flower, the national flower of Vietnam. The designed was based on feedback from Vietnamese public and experts.
The building will have a floor area of 399,987 square meters divided over four floors. Phase 2 will see the development of a second runway and terminal. This will bring total capacity to 75 million passengers and 2.7 million tons of cargo annually.
The airport is designed to have four runways, four passengers terminals and other auxiliary facilities to ensure a capacity of 100 million passengers and 5 million tons of cargo a year by 2040.
New Manila International Airport (Philippines)
Another mega airport under development in the region, is the Philippines Airport city of New Manila International Airport.
Costing $15 billion, the 2,500 hectares New Manila International Airport is part of the envisioned 12,000 hectares that features Residential Zones, Commercial Districts, Government Centers, Seaport, and an Industrial Zone.
The proposed airport will feature at least four runways expandable to six. With eight Taxiways in three terminal buildings expandable to four, it will have a maximum design capacity of 200 million passengers per year when fully built.
Upon completion, it will be the second biggest airport in the world, next to China’s Beijing Daxing International Airport. The first phase of the project will include a terminal building with airside and landside facilities, Taxiways, Airport Toll Road, and two of the four Runways in five years. With plans to expand to four runways one year later, it could handle 100 million annual passengers.
The Philippine government awarded 50 years of franchise to San Miguel Corporation for construction, operation, and maintenance of the airport including the development of an adjacent airport city called the San Miguel Aerocity incorporated.
Preparatory works is scheduled to commence in first quarter of 2021 with the land development project expected to be completed by the end of 2024. And the partial operability is set in the end of 2025.
The new airport is expected to bring trillions of dollars in economic activity, 35 million tourists annually, as well as 30 million tourism related jobs for people in Bulacan and nearby provinces.
The project will be developed by three major global airport construction firms. Groupe ADP, Meinhardt Group, and Jacobs Engineering Group. Among the airports these firms have worked on are Singapore’s famous Changi Airport, Charles De Gaulle Airport in France and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States.
Trans-Sumatra Toll Expressway (Indonesia)
Meanwhile, the biggest infrastructure project in Southeast Asia is the Trans-Sumatra toll expressway in Indonesia. Costing $33.2 billion, Trans-Sumatra toll road is an under construction toll expressway stretching across Sumatra Island in Indonesia from the Northern tip of Banda Aceh to the Southern tip of the Bakauheni.
The tolls entire length of 2,818 kilometers is estimated to cost about $33.2 billion. Consisting of 17 main segments and seven supporting segments, the toll road is expected to be completed by 2024.
As of November 2020, 513 kilometers of the toll is already completed and operational.