Lao companies to benefit from railway project: Officials
Officials in charge have confirmed that Lao construction companies will benefit from the almost-US$6 billion railway project linking Vientiane to the Chinese border.
Director of the Laos-China Railway construction project and Director of the Lao National Railway Company, Dr Koung Souk-Aloun, told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that a list of 59 companies has been submitted to the Chinese side for selection.
“We have sent them [the Chinese side] 59 companies, not 20 companies. The selection process is underway and hopefully Lao companies will be hired to undertake some of the work on the railroad project,” he said.
The railway, which will run over a distance of 427km, is currently under construction with various equipment, heavy machinery and trucks imported from China to carry out boring works of tunnels.
Tunnel boring for the project has already begun, according to officials in charge.
Dr Koung said some companies in local areas had already been hired to carry out some small project activities but he was unable to confirm what kind of work they were undertaking and in which areas.
He also said Lao workers had been employed by the project, but he was unwilling to give further detailed information regarding this aspect.
In the meantime, the Lao Business Construction Association told Vientiane Times on Wednesday they were still waiting for detailed information from authorities regarding how Lao many companies would benefit from the project.
The association was curious about the progress of the selection process, saying that local construction companies should benefit from the project since Laos holds a 30 percent stake and China is responsible for the remainder.
Lao authorities are committed to working with their Chinese counterparts to ensure that work that can be undertaken by Lao companies will be allocated to them.
Officials accepted that some tasks which required specialised technology and equipment, such as tunnel boring, would need to be given to Chinese companies. But other more conventional construction work such as soil levelling, concreting and other processes that did not require advanced technology could be granted to Lao companies.
China has agreed to pursue agreements signed between the governments of both nations in which Lao companies will contribute to the supply of construction materials, machinery, labour, and food.
The funding for this project is mainly sourced from China so it not surprising that the main contractors will be Chinese. The two sides agreed to set up a joint venture company to oversee the project.
By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update April 21, 2017)