Compensation payments for Laos-China railway slated for completion in 2019

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The payment of compensation to everyone who has lost land or other property to make way for the Laos-China railway is expected to take place next year, before completion of the railway in 2021. 

Individuals and businesses affected by the railway and who stand to be compensated live in four provinces and Vientiane, through which the track passes.

The plan was announced at the 4th Laos-China railway project committee-in-charge meeting, which was held in Vientiane on Tuesday. The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong.

Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport, Mr Lattanamany Khounnivong, reviewed the progress made to data and plans for the payment of compensation.

“We will continue to allocate compensation payments to affected people until we are sure everyone has been compensated transparently,” said Mr Lattanamany, who is Chairman of the Laos-China Railway Construction Project Management Committee.

He said payments had begun under the project’s priority plan, which was divided into seven groups. “We have completed compensation payments for the first and second groups,” he added.

“Once approval is granted for the other groups, we will immediately begin the compensation process. We will compensate people as soon as possible so they can improve their circumstances.”

According to recently published information, over 3,830 hectares of land and 3,346 buildings along with crops and forestry will be affected by the railway.

The number of affected families and properties is based on the initial data collected, with final agreements needed among all the parties concerned, including central and local authorities and displaced villagers.

Mr Lattanamany told the meeting that the compensation process must be transparent. “The authorities in charge will sign documents with the villagers affected and the relevant sectors based on agreement from all sides before compensation is paid.”

An initial report showed that 167 villages in 13 districts will be affected by the 409-km railway, which runs from the Chinese border to Vientiane through the provinces of Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Luang Prabang and Vientiane.

It will pass through 75 tunnels with a combined length of 197.83km.

The total investment cost is 40 billion yuan (US$5.8 billion), 70 percent of which comes from China and 30 percent from Laos.

The project is on track and is set to be completed in 2021.

It is seen as a milestone in the socio-economic and cooperation strategies of Laos and China.

The project is linked to the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative instigated by Chinese President Xi Jinping and is expected to contribute to increased friendly relations and cooperation between Laos and China and Asean as a whole.

The Lao government places great importance on the project, which is part of a planned regional rail network linking southern China to Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.

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