The majority of families have received payment for their land to make way for construction of the Laos-China Railway currently underway through 16.9km of Laos’ Luang Namtha province, project official Thongdaeng Sitthison told local media.
Thongdaeng is head of the Laos-China Railway Project impact assessment and compensation committee for Luang Namtha.
Compensation began in 2018, and many landholders have expressed interest in the scheme so far.
More than 131 billion kip ($14.5 million) has been paid to 218 families out of a total of 321 affected by the project, he said.
“Some affected families do not want to move to the new area that the province has arranged for them. They have asked to be paid compensation in cash, and they will buy their own homes in their preferred locations,” said Thongdaeng.
The province is still planning to compensate some landholders who are making way for the construction of the project’s two stations, one in Boten and the other in Nateuy.
Boten Station is close to the Friendship Tunnel on the border between Laos and China. At the Chinese border, the Friendship Tunnel is the largest of the many tunnels along the route and runs for a distance of 7,000m in China and 2,000m.
After going through the 9,000m long Friendship Tunnel across the border, trains will reach the station at Boten, the official border crossing between Laos and China in Luang Namtha province and about 1km from the tunnel.
Construction of the station is still ongoing on a 20ha site.
This is the first station on the southbound 414km line, which will be able to carry about 5,000 passengers per day as well as freight.
Passenger trains will run at 160km/h from Vientiane to the Boten-Mohan border crossing between Laos and China, through the four provinces of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha.
This section of the vast rail network covers 414.3km. The railway is scheduled for completion at the end of next year and will be the first rail route linking Laos to China’s network.
The Belt and Road Initiative dates back to 2013 when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Kazakhstan. During his visit, he called for countries in the region to work together to create the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Xi discussed it at length and was impressed by the thought that the scheme would involve so many countries developing together with no one left behind.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK