Laos govt to pay compensation to families displaced by railway

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) – Arbitration solution committees in Vientiane and the provinces together with the project developer have agreed on settlements with local people and 94 per cent of the land required for the railway has now been acquired, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told the National Assembly last Monday.

Over 56 billion kip has already been paid in compensation in the first tranche of payouts in Vientiane, Luang Namtha and Oudomxay provinces.

The Chinese government is providing a loan of USD160 million to be spent on compensation awards, the Prime Minister added.

The railway is now more than 40 per cent complete and is projected to be about 60 per cent by the end of 2019, according to the Lao government.

The USD5.986 billion joint venture railway connecting Vientiane to the Chinese border over a distance of 409km is slated for completion at the end of 2021.

The Laos-China railway under construction in Luang Prabang. – VIENTIANE TIMES/ANN

The railway is an important part of the pan-Asia railway network and a major route linking China and Laos.

It will be the first direct link with the railway network in China, built using Chinese technology, equipment and investment.

Passenger trains will travel at a maximum speed of 160km per hour, while freight trains will travel at a top speed of 120km per hour.

The National Assembly approved the project in 2012 as part of plans to turn Laos from a landlocked country into a land link within the region.

The railway will form part of the regional rail link known as the Kunming-Singapore railway, which covers a distance of 3,000km. The high-speed line will link China’s Kunming all the way down to Singapore, passing through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.

The Laos-China railway is a key cooperation project between the countries’ two governments.

The railway is part of the Belt and Road Initiative and will showcase the enhanced connectivity between China and Southeast Asian countries.