Are clean streets nothing but a dream?
Vientiane authorities announced back in 2010 that all roads in the capital would be clean by the year 2015 as part of the city's clean and green strategy, so more than five years later one has to ask, will there be action or only talk?
|The roads in Vientiane are covered in dust most of the time.
Vientiane authorities issued six objectives back in 2010, announcing that they would develop Vientiane to be cleaner, greener, lighter, more secure, more attractive and more civilised.
But under more urgent works, the priorities were identified as cleanliness, greenery and lighting.
Vientiane residents have observed that there are still many roads which are dirty and full of dust, while garbage collection is being neglected at suburban markets and also at prominent tourist sites.
Vientiane residents are also asking the concerned authorities to deploy the street sweeping trucks they received some time ago to clean up the dust because it is a long time since people have seen them on the roads.
“I have lived in Vientiane for many years but I have never seen a truck come to suck up the dust,” said Ms Chansone, who is herself a Vientiane official.
She complained that the roads in her community are full of dust but the authorities have shown a distinct lack of interest in cleaning them.
She also gave her opinion that the inflow of foreign investment has resulted in the establishment of more factories and companies, which have in fact contributed to the growing garbage problem.
Poorly managed rubbish has become a chronic problem in Vientiane. “I can't believe I am living in the capital where I thought management of dust and garbage would be good,” Ms Chansone said.
She accepted that dust on the roads is not an easy issue to solve as Vientiane is developing but said the authorities should work seriously to force contractors to take care of soil and dust issues and fine them if they don't.
For example, she observed that some major roads which have been surfaced with concrete are still covered in dust because project contractors do little to limit the dust problems originating at their sites.
Ms Chansone added that it seems that the garbage collectors are still suffering from a lack of equipment to be able to do their job and often their trucks are overloaded and rubbish ends up falling on the streets.
She noted that many roads in Vientiane are substandard, which also leads to dirty roads and dust, so these are some of the main obstacles in the way of achieving the goal of cleanliness.
Ms Chansone said she hoped the authorities would take more care of the city's streets by deploying the street sweepers that have been donated by foreign governments and also deploying their own water trucks to hose down the roads.
According to the Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety Management Division, the capital's dusty roads are putting residents who live along these roads at increased risk of various health problems, including respiratory infections.
Ther e are cases of respiratory infections due to allergies found in Vientiane while lung diseases are also found in rural areas, the report stated.
A recent health survey entitled ‘Years of Life Lost' found that lower respiratory infections have topped the list of diseases in Laos since 1990.
An Official at the Vientiane Urban Development Administration Authority (VUDAA) recently refuted the assertion that roads aren't being cleaned and are covered in dust.
He claimed that the VUDAA is still working to maintain cleanliness and is sucking the dust from along the roads in the four main districts of the capital but that most people won't see the authorities working because they are working late at night.
The official accepted that the roads will continue to suffer from dirt and dust because the VUDAA lacks funds for its cleaning programme.
However he went on to also lay the blame on residents for not cleaning the sidewalks and pointed to the lack of regulations being enforced to stop trucks dropping dust on the roads.
The official said that due to its lack of funds, the VUDAA has reduced its street cleaning activities from 19 streets to just nine, aiming to ensure the main thoroughfares in the capital are the first ones cleaned.
He cited the lack of awareness and assistance from members of the public as being part of the problem.
Th e official asked village authorities why residents are more attentive to cleaning the dust from in front of their houses during important events, suggesting that more attention is paid to the issue only at certain times.
He called on villagers and people at all levels of society to increase their responsibilities in assisting the VUDAA by cleaning up the dust in their communities, especially those who live along major streets, adding that everyone should dispose of their garbage responsibly.
The official also cited the dump trucks again, and agreed that the authorities who approve construction projects should have measures to force these investors to pay the VUDAA so that it can maintain and expand its street sweeping programme.
Currently, the VUDAA earns between 150-200 million kip per month from various sources but the lack of supporting g overnment funds limits its operations.
The VUDAA needs more than 320 million kip each month to clean 19 major roads in the city, the VUDAA official said.
“It is not only the VUDAA but all sectors state and private, as well as people in society who need to work together if we ever want to realise the objective of Vientiane as a city of cleanliness,” he stressed.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 2, 2016)