Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

Compensation for land lost not yet claimed

Vientiane Times, 3 September 2013

Many people have not yet collected compensation payments for the land they lost to the 450 Year Road despite almost three years having passed.

There is no time limit but it may be in their best interests to hurry up and make their claim at the Vientiane Natural Resources and Environment Department.

Out of the 600 parcels of land formerly owned by residents in Xaysettha, Hadxaifong and Xaythany districts that were acquired by the government to build the road at the end of 2010, compensation has been paid out on only 387 plots, a department official said.

New land title certificates in the name of the Bank of the Lao PDR for these 387 lots have been prepared, but the remaining 213 cannot be re-titled until the compensation has been claimed.

The former owners of these lots have not yet collected the money from department officials despite the department having announced that the land is now state property and any title deeds they hold are no longer valid.

Many of the former owners said they hadn’t collected the compensation money mainly because they had bought the land for a comparatively high price but were now being offered only a small payout, a department official told Vientiane Times .

The compensation offered varies according to location and terrain. Some plots were valued at 20,000 kip per square metre while others were considered to be worth up to 2.5 million kip per square metre. Low lying land that had no pathways or road access was assessed for less compensation.

In a bid to solve the problem, the Vientiane authorities are giving former landowners first right of refusal on the 50m land reserves, before they are put up for sale on the open market.

The 20km road was built under the government’s policy to convert land into capital. A strip of land 50 metres wide on either side of the road was surplus to requirements and is being put up for sale to cover some of the US$80 million cost of building the road.

Some people have used the compensation they have received to buy new land and the authorities have given them new land title certificates.

The rest of the land reserves will be sold by the bank which will soon offer them for sale to the general public.

Depending on the location and condition of the land, plots may be sold back to the former owners at higher prices.

Construction of the concrete road began in 2008. The 450 Year Road was one of 21 projects undertaken to mark the 450th anniversary of Vientiane as the capital, and to reduce traffic congestion. The road cuts 7km off the journey between Dongdok and the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge. Motorists can save time and money by using the road, which bypasses the capital’s urban centre.

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