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Posts Tagged ‘Laos-China railway project’

Tunnelling ahead as Laos-China railway proceeds on track

Source: Vientiane Times, July 15, 2017
http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Tunnelling_162.htm
Construction of the Laos-China railway project is progressing as scheduled despite some work requiring a pause due to the rainy season, officials in charge said.
Work on boring tunnels is carrying on, project coordinator for Luang Namtha province Mr Chanthachone Keolakhone told Vientiane Times via telephone on Wednesday.
Mr Chanthachone said Lao and Chinese officials had worked hard to bore tunnel entrances before the rainy season so that rainfall would not delay construction.
Naturally, work inside the tunnels can be carried out without little regard to weather conditions outside.
Mr Chanthachone said that all three tunnels are being bored with the Boten Tunnel having progressed the furthest at more than 120 metres.
The Teentok Tunnel is gathering steam at 45 metres in length to date.
The Laos-China Friendship Tunnel, crossing the Laos-China border has seen more than 55 metres of progress thus far.
Mr Chanthachone said construction of bridges and roads related to the project are now on pause until rains end.
Construction may not meet the standards if we continue to work due to the rainfall, he said.
In particular, the preparations to drill the foundations for a bridge connecting Luang Namtha and Oudomxay provinces had to be halted.
In Oudomxay province, the project coordinator Mr Phonpadith Phommakit told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that work on around 34 tunnels is still ongoing.
Currently, some nine of 34 tunnels have been bored and are on now track, while some works of roads and bridges are also on pause due to the rainfall.
In Vientiane, project coordinator Mr Souneth Luangsouphom said officials have continued to remove barriers and to develop areas for the construction since the project began in December last year.
At present, Chinese contractors had already developed a 15 km stretch in preparation for construction to date, he said.
A 7km-long bridge from Dongxiengdy to Nakhoun villages in Naxaithong district will be constructed after the seasonal rainfalls conclude, he said.
The planned 417-km railway to connect Vientiane to the Chinese border traverses the provinces of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha passing through 75 tunnels with a combined length of 197.83km.
The project has a total investment of 40 billion Chinese yuan (about US$6 billion), 70 percent of which comes from China, with 30 percent from Laos.
The project set to be completed by 2021 is seen to mark a significant milestone in the socio-economic and cooperation strategies of the two countries.
The project is linked to the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative proffered by Chinese President Xi Jinping and is expected to contribute to increased friendly relations and cooperation between the neighbours and Asean as a whole.
The Lao government places great importance on the realisation of the project which is part of a planned regional railway linking southern China to Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.
Laos also attached great importance to and is seriously examining opportunities per the One Belt and One Road, which provides clear goals of comprehensive cooperation between countries of the region and contributes to the promotion of a higher level of connectivity in policies, infrastructure, trade and investment, finance, society and culture.

Private sector urged to get involved with infrastructure development

Source: Vientiane Times, June 5, 2017
Infrastructure development under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model is taking shape in Laos as the government requires huge capital investment to improve road networks and other facilities.
Lao economists have supported the initiative, saying that with the government’s limited funding, it’s critical to encourage the involvement of the private sector to develop infrastructure.
Independent and experienced economist Dr ManaSouthichak told Vientiane Times last week that “private investment in developing roads or expressways is a good way to reduce the government’s budget burden, but the government needs to ensure the integrity of the project as well.”
Dr Mana referred to a toll on Road No. 16 in Champassak province where the government allowed Duangdy Bridge-Road Construction Company to upgrade the road and collect fees from motorists for a period of 45 years.
The toll road generated large numbers of complaints from members of the public since the developer started to collect fees from motorists in August last year.
“This project is not fair for the public,” Dr Mana said, saying that private companies needed to be allowed to build new roads (not upgrade existing roads) and collect fees from motorists. Those who do not want to pay the fees can then use the existing roads.
A senior economist at the National Economic Research Institute, Dr Leeber Leebouapao agreed with this opinion, saying the government needed to create options for local people, not forcing them to pay the tolls.
Currently, Laos plans to build an expressway from Vientiane to northern and southern parts of the country to facilitate transport as well as boost economic growth.
A planned Vientiane-Vangvieng expressway over the distance of 113.7 km is under a feasibility study. The project, which is estimated to cost US$1.4 billion, is set to be developed in parallel with the existing Road 13 North and the Laos-China railway project.
Another planned expressway will be built from Vientiane’s city centre to Xaythany district over the distance of 14 km, passing through 13 villages in Xaysettha district and six villages in Xaythany district.
The government recently approved construction of the project which expected to cost between US$150 million and US$200 million.
Nevertheless, Dr Leeber is optimistic that the private-public partnerships will help the government attract capital from private investment to sustain economic growth.
In 2016, the overall investment across Laos increased above the set plan by 24.2 percent year-on-year, driven by private sector and bank credit, according to the government’s latest report.
The government planned to mobilise 34.5 trillion kip last year but more than 42.85 trillion kip has been pumped into the investment sector, representing 33.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
However, domestic and foreign private entrepreneurs represent more than half of the entire investment sector.

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