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.

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