Lao people affected by railway project still waiting for compensation

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) – More than 30 families in Dongxiengdy village of Naxaithong district, Vientiane, who have been displaced by the Laos-China railway project are yet to be paid compensation.

A large construction camp has been built and work has already commenced in the area.

Vongdao Xayavong, one of the affected villagers, told a Vientiane Times reporter last week his home was in the project area and he has to move, but he is unable to do so because he has not received the compensation as yet.

Construction workers are erecting poles to support the railway tracks near the area where the homes of Vongdara and his neighbours are located.

Construction is underway around the homes even as the affected people await compensation.

A total of 10 houses and 28 farms in the village have been affected by the project.

Vongdao said the compensation for land needed for the project should be equivalent to current market prices or higher, if possible, because the people need the funds. “If the compensation is lower than that, it will stress the affected villagers,” he said.

He said the villagers had met the district authorities twice in 2013 to discuss the project but the officials could not say when the compensation would be paid.

In 2013, the authorities had collected information about the number of farms, rice fields and homes that would be impacted by the project.The authorities had also met the local residents to make a presentation on the scheme.

The railway corridor has already been cleared across open land but buildings have yet to be removed.

The houses affected by the railway project in Dongxiengdy village Naxaithong district. – VIETNAM NEWS

The Village Headman, Phonesy Tongvongkham, said the construction firm had asked the village authority to inform all affected farmers to collect their produce, but the people were waiting for their compensation.

“The village authority does not know how to resolve the worries of the people. The state sector responsible for the project has said it will compensate the people for all their losses, but the people have got nothing so far,” he added.

Phonesy urged the ministries involved in the project to help the village authority in explaining the situation to the people.

The government said it is looking to speed up the compensation and sought the NA’s support in this regard.

The Minister of Public Works and Transport, Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong, called for the NA to help encourage the provincial and Vientiane administrations and the People’s Councils to approve the unit prices for the compensation calculated by the authorities.

Different unit prices were calculated for the land required for the railway project, depending on location and whether the land is connected to national roads, provincial roads and village lanes, or has no access to roads.

Compensation for rice fields ranges from 10,000 kip to 137,000 kip per square metre, according to calculations by the authorities.

Compensation for farmland ranges from 2,500 kip to 262,500 kip per square metre, while the rate for residential land ranges from 10,000 kip to three million kip per square metre.

Affected villagers are also set to receive compensation for houses and flats impacted by the project, with compensation initially calculated to be between 320,000 kip and 3.5 million kip per square metre.

A total of 3,832 hectares of land and 3,346 buildings, along with crops and trees, will be impacted.