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Road construction, project bids top concerns about public works

The construction of roads and other infrastructure that took place in the absence of transparency and integrity were the topics most frequently questioned by members of the public when voicing concerns about government responsibility.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport revealed these concerns when announcing the content of calls made to its hotline by members of the public over the past year.
Following the opening of a hotline at the Prime Minister’s Office in November 2016, the ministry opened its own hotline soon afterwards, using the number 1518.
Reporting on the hotline calls at the first meeting of the government hotline committee last week, the ministry’s Office Head Bounchanh Sinrasavong said the public’s queries centred on 18 common issues.
He said 65 percent of the questions concerned roads and bridges in relation to road repairs, building of new roads, and roadworks that were not completed as stated in the original contracts.
Unapproved road projects and construction that did not meet set technical standards were other complaints.
Callers were also concerned about project bids that were merely held for show as the winners had already been decided, and about profiteers who sold their projects on to other parties.
The management of bus stations comprised 15 percent of the hotline calls, and mostly related to disputes between the owners of the terminals and vehicles operating on the same routes competing for passengers.
The use of old and substandard buses and other vehicles, unregulated passenger vehicles and unprofessional drivers were also among the queries raised.
Callers also complained about disorderly traffic flow, unreliable traffic lights, unregulated parking, overloaded vehicles, gravel trucks driving through town centres in the rush hour, unclear traffic lanes, fake licence plates, and foreigners using Lao-registered vehicles for their business operations. 
Ten percent of callers raised questions about violation of the regulations on urban planning and housing, and wanted the authorities to take stricter measures against offenders.
Shortage of water and the poor quality of piped water, together with substandard water meters, also featured among the complaints about water supply.
Compensation for the loss of land to development projects, especially relating to the Laos-China railway, and misconduct by government employees in the collection of various fees were also common complaints.
Mr Bounchanh said the ministry had taken public opinion into account, noting that ministry leaders discussed the issues raised at their monthly meetings.
Responses were made within one week with regard to problems directly related to the ministry’s responsibility.
Issues relating to more than one sector and to local authorities, such as transport management, road accidents, traffic congestion, and the management of urban planning and housing, required a response time of two weeks.
The government acknowledged that hotline calls provided a better understanding of public concerns, and allowed problems to be addressed in accordance with the facts.

By Somxay Sengdara
(Latest Update
February 28,

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