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Railway compensation gathers steam

Authorities in charge have vowed to speed up efforts to compensate people affected by the construction of the Laos-China railway.
A recent meeting held in Luang Prabang province recommended that people affected by the Laos-China railway open accounts at Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) to receive compensation payments.
The recommendation will be submitted to higher authorities to seek approval, Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport Lattanamany Khounnivong, who chaired the meeting, said.

“The meeting agreed that compensation should be paid through the bank as it is transparent,” said Mr Lattanamany, who is Chairman of the Laos-China Railway Construction Project Management Committee.
The deputy minister was unable to give a precise date as to when compensation payments would start because approval from higher authorities was needed first.
“Once approval is granted, we can begin the compensation process. We will compensate people as soon as possible,” he said.
Compensation will be paid both in cash and in kind for lost land, crops and buildings.
An initial report disclosed previously suggested that 4,411 families in total would be affected by the 417-km railway, which will run from the Laos-China border to Vientiane through Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Luang Prabang, and Vientiane provinces.
As many as 3,832 hectares of land and 3,346 buildings along with crops and forestry will be impacted. The number of affected families and properties was based on the initial data collected, with final agreement needed among all relevant parties including central and local authorities and displaced villagers.
Mr Lattanamany promised that the compensation process would be transparent, saying the authorities in charge would sign documents with the villagers affected and the relevant sectors based on agreement from all sides before awarding compensation.
“All relevant parties need to reach agreement to ensure accurate information and compensation payment to prevent disputes and duplicate payments,” Mr Lattanamany said.
The government attaches great importance to the payment of compensation and the construction of the Laos-China railway, which will help to transform Laos from being land-locked to a land link within the region.
The government cabinet last week reiterated that the Ministry of Public Works and Transport should work with the Chinese side to effectively carry out construction of the US$5.986 billion railway to ensure its completion by the scheduled date of December 31, 2021.
As of December last year, construction of the railway was 20.3 percent complete.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update
March 1,

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