The Lao government and the Laos-China Railway Co Ltd. have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the development of areas surrounding railway stations in the capital and Oudomxay, Vientiane and Luang Prabang provinces, with the aim of fostering industry and logistics.
The agreement was signed in Vientiane on December 11 between Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Khamchan Vongsenboun, Laos-China Railway general manager Xiao Qianwen and representatives of the four areas concerned.
The signing was witnessed by Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Viengsavath Siphandone, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Thongphat Vongmany, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Bounmy Phoutthavong and other guests.
Speaking at the event, Xiao said the development of areas around these railway stations would tap the potential in these locations for the growth of industry, logistics, commerce, and local economies.
The targeted areas are the station in Vientiane, a station in Vangvieng district, Vientiane province, a station in Xay district, Oudomxay province and a station in Luang Prabang province.
As of December 10, work on the tunnel railroad, tunnels, and bridges was about 95 per cent complete, while railroad tracks and buildings were 41.3 per cent complete, Xiao said.
The 422.4km railway, which connects 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, according to Laos-China Railway.
Construction of the $5.986 billion railway began in December 2016 and is scheduled to be complete and open for use in December next year.
The Laos-China railway is a strategic part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the government’s plan to transform Laos from being landlocked to land-linked across the region.
When it is operational, the railway will cut the cost of transport through northwestern Laos by 30-40 per cent compared to transport by road.
The railway runs from the Boten border crossing with China in northern Laos to Vientiane, with trains running at a maximum speed of 160km/h.
The government is confident that the railway will spur socio-economic development and enable Laos to make greater progress.
Laos now has 41 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 8 cases under treatment at Mittaphab Hospital. The two latest cases were confirmed by positive test results for the virus on December 7.