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

Mekong road residents ask for compensation

Vientiane Times, 27 Jan 2013

Villagers are requesting compensation for a road widening project in Vientiane despite authorities having announced that no compensation will be paid for those already affected.

The concrete road will run from Chinaimo junction in Sisattanak district through Somhong and Kaengpayang villages along the Mekong to the junction of Thakhek village in Hadxaifong district.

It is currently under construction. Affected villagers say they are not against the project’s development but they wanted some compensation to minimise their losses because they have spent a lot of money to build their houses.

Mr Seut from Phosy village told Vientiane Times on Friday that the project expansion will cut through half of his wooden house but there is no room to relocate on his block.

“If possible, I want some compensation to demolish the house and rebuild it in a smaller size. I want the authorities to look at the compensation issue case by case, not just treat everyone equally,” he said.

An official in charge of the project Mr Phouthong Lattanavong said authorities have decided not to issue compensation because most villagers encroached on the reserve areas allocated along both sides of the road.

“Many people do not have a permit for house construction,” he said. “However our authorities will take into account those who have a permit and have no space to relocate their houses.”

Mr Phouthong did not have the exact figure of the number of villagers affected by the project, but said the figure would be not less than 400 people.

The project mostly affected shops and the fences of people living along the road with only a small number of houses to be demolished.

According to Vientiane Department of Public Works and Transport, the national road reserve is about 25m wide while the provincial road reserve is 15m wide and district road reserve is 10m wide.

The road in question may be considered as a provincial road but many local people seemed initially unconcerned about the issue. So me residents thought the road construction was going to be a long way off. In the mean time, there may not have been sufficient information distributed about the reserve.

The Vientiane Department of Public Works and Transport signed an agreement with the Douangpaseuth Road and Bridge Construction Company last year to build the 14-km-long road, aiming to help ease traffic flows in that area of the capital.

Under the agreement, the company will invest more than 380 billion kip (US$50 million) to build the road and the government will then repay the money over a five-year period after the work is finished.

Initially, the road was designed to be 15m wide, with drainage installed on both sides of the road and footpaths; while street lighting will be installed along it’ s entirely.

As many more people will be affected by this project design, authorities have now decided to narrow the road to only 12m to minimise the impact on villagers.

Authorities called for affected villagers to make a contribution to the country’s development as this road will not only be beneficial to people in the capital but also bring benefits to the affected villagers themselves.

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