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

That Luang Marsh road to convert land into capital

Vientiane Times, 21 August 2014

The construction of an 11km highway in Vientiane from Donnokhoum village in Sisattanak district which links to the 450 Year Road will still proceed under the policy of turning land into capital. Gossip amongst local residents recently was that the road would no longer have land reserved along each side to be sold and converted into capital as they had heard no talks on the issue in recent months. In fact, the road will still proceed under the original plan, with two hundred metres of land being reserved along each side of the road, which will be sold at commercial rates afterwards.

President of Namtha Road-Bridge Construction Company, which is the principle contractor, Mr Khampeung Thongsaba told Vientiane Times on Wednesday, “No, it is not cancelled. Citizens just talk amongst themselves.” He explained that not all of 200 metres along the road side will be reserved and that now only the empty land will be collected. The company will negotiate with those residents that hold land use rights for the agricultural areas to be resumed as part of the reservation.

According to the company, the 200 metre wide reservation did not include the land to be used for the road itself and would begin at the edge of the new six-lane highway. Construction is being undertaken in three phases, each 25 metres wide, not including the sidewalks. The first sees the road connecting Donnokkhoum and Kamphaengmeuang Road in Donkoi village. On this stretch the road reserve is 40 metres wide. The second phase will link Kamphaengmeuang Road to Xiengda village crossing the marsh and needs a road reserve of 70 metres. The third section of the road runs from Xiengda village to the 450 Year Road with the road reserve here being 40 metres wide.

Mr Khampeung also reported to Vientiane Mayor Dr Sinlavong Khoutphaithoun eand his delegation overseeing the progress of the route on Tuesday morning, informing them that it’s about 60 percent complete so far. The cost is estimated at more than US$150 million and construction may be complete in 2015. Dr Sinlavong advised that the development of this road project needs to be undertaken carefully with the guidance of high level officials.

Vientiane authorities and the staff of the company must work together with families that are impacted by the construction project to ensure that it progresses smoothly and grievances are kept to a minimum. Vientiane authorities are working to collect information in order to assess the compensation to be paid to villagers who will lose their land to make way for the development. The residents hope that their lives may get better in the future after the compensation. So far, 100 families in the area have been removed to push forward this development in the capital.

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