Laos, China exchange views on construction development

Mr Viengsavath Siphansone (front right) joins other Lao and Chinese officials inspecting construction equipment displayed at the National Convention Centre in Vientiane.

Laos and China are set to boost cooperation and technical assistance in the construction of roads and bridges to facilitate the faster and safer implementation of high quality projects. Representatives of Lao and Chinese construction companies and Lao government officials gathered in Vientiane yesterday to exchange experiences and get feedback on developments in new construction techniques, technology and materials. The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in cooperation with Guangxi Liugong Machinery Co Ltd and VK Group. During the meeting, participants discussed and exchanged ideas on four main topics the road development plan and strategy of Laos, management of machinery and vehicle imports in Laos, technologically advanced machinery for road and bridge construction in China, and the material supply plans for road construction and other solutions of VK Group.

“Infrastructure development is a key focus of the national public works and transport sector which is promoting different companies, organisations and relevant sectors to participate in construction and design by using new techniques, technology and equipment, but safety and high quality are a priority for all projects,” Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport, Mr Viengsavath Siphansone said. Laos and China have been cooperating and assisting each other in different sectors, and the construction of roads and bridges can further boost relations between the two sides.

Currently , m a n y construction companies and infrastructure development projects in Laos have received grants and loans from the Chinese government. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is promoting infrastructure development, and yesterday’s meeting was necessary for the exchange of experiences between Lao and Chinese technicians. It will lead to the promotion of win-win cooperation for both sides, officials said. Laos is facing various challenges in developing transport infrastructure, including limited funding, according to the Road and Bridge Department of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. The sector needs about US$168 million annually for improving and repairing roads, but it received only US$72 million this year.

Laos’ underlying infrastructure does not meet regional standards with many roads unable to cope with the weight borne by those in neighbouring countries, and this affects integration with the region. Some 2,016 villages in Laos only have access to roads in the dry season, and another 394 communities do not have access to roads at all, according to the department’s statistics. Laos is also impacted by natural disasters each year that destroy many highways and bridges, and many companies have violated regulations by allowing overloaded vehicles on the road. Only a small percentage of roads are well maintained or asphalted, human resource development does not meet with development demand, and there is a lack of coordination, planning, and follow up inspections by relevant sectors.