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Laos-China railway on track despite Covid-19 pandemic

Construction of the Laos-China railway is progressing as planned despite the obstacles posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.   
As of August 31, the railway was 91.11 percent complete and had moved ahead by 0.34 percent compared to July, according to the latest report from the project management committee.

Signed by the head of the committee, Mr Chantoula Phanalasy, on September 15, the report stated that of the total 266,636-metre-long 75 tunnels, 72 tunnels had been bored, marking a significant step forward in the building of the US$5.9-billion railway, which is scheduled for completion at the end of next year.
According to a recent report in the China Daily, the 9.59-kilometre cross-border tunnel has just been completed.
Dubbed the “friendship tunnel”, it comprises a 7.17-kilometre tunnel in Yunnan province and 2.42 kilometres on the Lao side of the border.
Project manager of the China Railway No. 2 Engineering Group, Mr Luo Hengfu, was quoted in the China Daily as saying that the complex geological situation created enormous difficulties for construction and safety control.
He told Chinese media the company devised special measures to ensure safety and project standards while speeding up construction thanks to the concerted efforts of the more than 1,200 Lao and Chinese workers.
In the construction of 165 bridges, almost 2,000 pillars have been built, equal to 98.8 percent of the project design, laying a solid foundation for bridge construction.
Meanwhile, track is being laid between Huaynamyen village in Vientiane’s Naxaithong district and Luang Prabang province.
As August 31, 109 out of the total 414.3 kilometres of track had been laid, according to the project management committee under the Lao Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
The government is keen to move ahead with construction of the railway by facilitating all of the associated works.
Despite the travel restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese and Lao airlines are authorised to operate flights between Vientiane and Kunming in China to facilitate construction of the railway and other large-scale projects underway in Laos.
However, personnel working on these projects must comply with virus prevention and control measures to prevent a second outbreak of Covid-19 and ensure that construction schedules remain on track.
The Laos-China railway is a strategic part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Laos’ plan to transform the country from being landlocked to a land link within the region.
Construction of the railway began in 2016 and, when it becomes operational in 2021, the cost of transport will be reduced by 30-40 percent compared to the current cost of road transport.
The government also believes the railway will help to boost socio-economic development in Laos in the near future.
The railway in Laos will link with the track in Thailand to form part of the regional rail link known as the Kunming-Singapore railway, covering a total distance of some 3,000km.


By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update
September 17,
2020)


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