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Laos-China railway construction ‘progressing well’

Source: Vientiane Times, May 17, 2017

Construction of the Laos-China railway is gathering steam with many tunnels being bored despite rainfall, officials said yesterday.
All three tunnels in LuangNamtha province are being bored with the Boten Tunnel having progressed the furthest at more than 50 metres, project coordinator for LuangNamtha province MrChanthachoneKeolakhone told Vientiane Times yesterday.

The Laos-China Friendship Tunnel, which crosses the Laos-China border, has been bored more than 10 metres so far, he added.
In addition, Chinese contractors are preparing to drill the foundations for a bridge connecting LuangNamtha and Oudomxay provinces.
As in other provinces, boring is ongoing in Oudomxay, project coordinator for the northern province, MrPhonpadithPhommakit, said, adding that about 30 tunnels will be bored in that province.
An official at the Chinese Embassy to Laos also said yesterday that construction of the US$5.8 billion railway is progressing well, citing information from Chinese contractors.
The 417-km railway, which connects Vientiane with the Chinese border through the provinces of Vientiane, LuangPrabang, Oudomxay and LuangNamtha, passes through 75 tunnels with a combined length of 197.83km.
The Lao and Chinese sides have been working hard to get the tunnels bored before the rainy season so that rainfall will not delay construction, as work can be carried out inside the tunnels during rain.
Construction of the single-track railway that began in December last year is set to be completed by 2021.
The government attaches great importance to realising the project, which is part of the planned regional railway linking southern China to Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.
Once operational, the railway, which is part of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, will add fuel to the Lao government’s efforts to turn Laos from a landlocked into a land-linked country.
In light of the project’s significance, President BounnhangVorachit has voiced Laos’ support for the Belt and Road Initiative and pledged that the nation would do what it could to support the initiative.
“Laos places great importance on the initiative and supports the Belt and Road strategy,” President Bounnhang told the Leaders Roundtable of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 15 in Beijing.
“We stand ready to participate in the implementation of activities and projects according to our capacity in order to bring about benefits to the region as well as to promote connectivity among the countries along the Belt and Road, which will significantly contribute to the realisation of the policy of transforming Laos from a landlocked into a land-linked country.”

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