Work on Vientiane Expressway No. 1 Project begins

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Construction of the mega Vientiane Expressway No. 1 officially began yesterday, with the project aiming to ease traffic congestion and respond to economic growth in the Lao capital. 

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on February 20 at the Thatluang Marsh Specific Economic Zone in Xaysettha district, which is the starting point of the road. It ends in the Dongmarkkhai area and will covers a distance of 15.3 km. 

The build-operate-transfer (BOT) expressway is funded by the privately-owned Vientiane Expressway No. 1 Sole Co., Ltd., with a 50 year concession starting from the completion of construction. The road is expected to be finished within 24 months.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, the Vice Mayor of Vientiane, Mr Phoukhong Bannavong, said the expressway was one of six priority projects of Vientiane to develop infrastructure in the capital, improve traffic along Kaysone Phomvihane Road and provide another option for motorists wanting to access Road 13 South.

The scheme is expected to benefit the economy and society. It is part of transport developments in the city to link important State organisations, commercial areas and the railway station, he said.

The total cost of the project is US$200 million, including US$50 million being paid in compensation to people who have had to give up land or other property to make way for the road.

The expressway consists of 3.95 km of overpasses and 11.35 km of ground level road. The project area is 289.2 hectares in the two districts of Xaysettha and Xaythany. The road traverses 21 villages, 14 of which are in Xaysettha district and seven in Xaythany district.

The total width of the road is 54 metres, but the actual surface width is 23.6 metres. The four lane road will have traffic lights, signage, trees and other special features.

Mr Phoukhong said the project developer has disbursed most of the compensation due to property owners. He thanked everyone for their great contribution to infrastructure development.

The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Vientiane Dr Sinlavong Khoutphaythoune, ministers, deputy ministers and guests.

Construction will comply with the Asean Standard (Grade One). The road will be paved with concrete and asphalt and can carry 75,000 vehicles a day.

There will be toll payment stations at two points. The first will be at Hongsouphab village, before the 450 Year Road and railway station, and the second will be at the entry and exit area of the Thatluang Specific Economic Zone.

The expressway will connect with eight existing roads, beginning in the Thatluang Mash Specific Economic Zone. It will then link to roads in Nonsavang village, Meuang Dokchampa (Phonphanao village), Anji market (Nongnieng village), 450 Year Road (Xoakyai and Nakhae villages), Xay village (a connection point to the railway station), Road No. 13 South (Xayxavang village) and the Dongmakkhai area (the end of the expressway).

The expressway will also link the National Sports Complex, the main centre of government in Xaythany district, and economic zones.

It is estimated that it will take drivers only 10 minutes to get from the beginning of the expressway at the Thatluang Mash Specific Economic Zone to the Dongmakkhai area.

President of the Vientiane Expressway No. 1 Sole Co., Ltd., Mr Pheutsapha Phoummasak, said “We began the survey and feasibility study in 2016 and we hope that construction of this expressway will be carried out with the utmost efficiency.”

So far, the company has paid out almost 70 percent of the compensation owed to people who lost land or other property to the project. The committee in charge will pay the remaining amount next month.

“Another form of compensation for people who do not want money is for our company to allocate land for them, while some want shares in our company in place of compensation,” he said.

The Vientiane authorities gave the green light to Asia Investment, Development and Construction Sole Co Ltd (AIDC), a Lao firm, and China’s Norinco Company to carry out project surveys and draw up design plans. In this regard, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the authorities and the companies on July 12, 2016. They completed the survey within two years.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement to the Vientiane authorities on February 7, 2019, allowing them to sign a BOT concession agreement with Vientiane Expressway Number 1 Sole Company Ltd.

The BOT concession agreement was signed on March 3, 2019, at the Lao Plaza Hotel.

The signing was attended by the Mayor of Vientiane, Dr Sinlavong Khoutphaythoune, Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Souphanh Keomixay, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng, and other guests. 

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