Laotians get relief after long wait for railway compensation
COMPENSATION FOR Laotians affected by construction of the LaosChina railway should start arriving this month after a long delay, authorities say.
“We will strive to begin compensation payments by the end of June,” Minister of Public Works and Transport Bounchanh Sinthavong told the National Assembly last week.
He was responding to questions raised by Assembly members on progress in compensating people who had lost land and other property to make way for the railway and the planned development of expressways in Laos.
Some NA members noted that many people had been waiting a very long time for compensation.
People living along the route of the planned US$ 5.986 billion (Bt192.4 billion) project began giving up farming years ago, which had adversely affected their livelihoods, NA members said. Pledging to start compensation in the coming weeks, the minister said the combined cost of compensation and construction of access roads for 11 railway stations along the 409-km line, which falls under the responsibility of the Lao government, was more than 2.492 trillion kip (Bt9.6 billion).
People’s Councils of the provinces of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha as well as the capital Vientiane, through which the railway will pass, have approved the rate of compensation.
Bounchanh pledged transparent, fair and verifiable compensation in line with the law and regulations.
“The National Treasury will manage the compensation accounts and authorise payments,” he told parliament.
The loss of all property, including land, buildings, fences, crops and trees will be compensated for.
The compensation is calculated based on market prices and government policy, Bounchanh said. The price of the land use rights of nearby plots recently sold is being taken into account when calculating compensation. Also being taken into account is the Prime Ministerial Decree on Compensation and Resettlement for People Affected by Development Projects, which guarantees equal or superior living conditions for displaced villagers. Compensation and resettlement must also be carried out in a just, fair and open manner with the involvement of the project developer, villagers, state officials and other stakeholders.
Bounchanh said payments would be made periodically with priority given to paying for rice for people whose fields can no longer be cultivated as well as paying rent for people while their new houses are being built.
Construction of the railway linking Vientiane to the Chinese border was 33.8 per cent complete as of May 31. The five-year construction plan has a completion date of 2021.