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

Govt to steam ahead with railway compensation

Source: Vientiane Times, August 23, 2017

The government is looking to speed up compensation for people who will lose land or other property to make way for the Laos-China railway, asking the National Assembly (NA) to extend support in this regard.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong called for the NA to encourage provincial and Vientiane administrations as well as provincial and Vientiane People’s councils to approve unit prices for the compensation calculated by authorities in charge.

The minister made the call in a report he delivered during a recent meeting between the government cabinet and the NA’s Standing Committee.

The meeting suggested the government’s relevant authorities seek approval regarding the compensation unit prices from local administrations and provincial councils before carrying out compensation, an Assembly source who attended the meeting told Vientiane Times yesterday.

Compensation for the loss of rice fields ranges from 10,000 to 137,000 kip per square metre, according to unit prices calculated by the authorities in charge.

Different unit prices were calculated for lost land depending on location and whether the land is connected to national roads, provincial roads, village lanes or has no road access.

Compensation unit prices for farmland range from 2,500 to 262,500 kip per square metre, while compensation for residential land was calculated from 10,000 to 3 million kip per square metre.

Affected villagers were also set to receive compensation for houses and flats impacted by the project with compensation for property initially calculated at between 320,000 to 3.5 million kip per square metre.

Unit prices to compensate for the loss of smaller buildings like kitchens, huts, car parks, shops and animal houses were set at between 30,000 to 250,000 kip per square metre.

In addition, railway developers are looking into compensating for crops and fruit trees which have to be cleared to make way for the US$5.8 billion project, which is currently under construction.

The unit prices were calculated based on information in which current market prices and previous compensation given to affected properties by projects implemented in nearby areas are taken into account in line with the government’s compensation policy.

Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport and Chairman of the Laos-China Railway Project Management Committee, Mr Lattanamany Khounnivong, said these were just initial compensation unit prices calculated by the authorities in charge.

He added that the authorities would seek approval from the relevant bodies including provincial administrations and provincial people’s councils.

It was reported that 4,411 families in the provinces of Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Luang Prabang, Vientiane as well as the capital Vientiane would be affected by the 417-km railway.

As much as 3,832 hectares of land and 3,346 buildings along with crops and trees will be impacted.

However, authorities in charge are still unable to estimate the total compensation cost as they have not yet finished demarcating the reserved area for the rail line, while the compensation unit prices still need approval

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