Construction of a 30-km embankment along the Mekong River starting near the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge in Vientiane will soon begin.
The flood protection levy will run from the Vientiane-NongKhai Friendship Bridge downstream through Huaymarkhia village to Dongphoudy and Thamuang villages in Hadxaifong district.
The project, known as the Vientiane Flood Embankment Protection Project under the Flood and Drought Risk Management and Mitigation Project, is funded by the Asian Development Bank in the form of a low-interest loan to the Lao government.
The embankment is expected to be finished in 2019. The overall cost of construction has been calculated at US$36.5 million including compensation payments to affected households, officials said.
President of the Flood and Drought Risk Management and Mitigation Project, Dr Khamchanh Vongsana, spoke to Vientiane Times last week when compensation payments were distributed to householders under the Rehabilitation of Vientiane Flood Protection Project.
Dr Khamchanh said the construction of the embankment represents Phase II of the project after the completion of Phase I, which involved a study of the project and the amount of compensation to be paid.
The embankment will be 10 metres wide. Of the 30km length, 26km will have asphalt surfacing and 4km will be unsealed.
Dr Khamchanh said the project comprises several components including urban flood risk management, disaster risk management systems, disaster risk financing and insurance, project management, and contingency emergency response.
The project will greatly reduce the effects of future floods on about, 61,000 people, he added.
When the embankment is built, it will form a circular road and be an important addition to the road network, connecting the main destinations in Vientiane, particularly in Hadxaifong district.
In addition to providing secure flood protection, the development will give Vientiane an additional and attractive area of land.
Flood embankment protection will contribute to general development and poverty reduction among households in the area and enable the transport of goods.
In November 2012, the government reported on the importance of the flood protection project to the ADB.
In 2013, the ADB decided to support the project and provide a low-interest loan for the feasibility study.
At present there is only limited riverbank protection along the Mekong as it is prohibitively expensive. Large scale erosion often occurs in the rainy season when the river flows fast, and large sections of riverbank can collapse quite suddenly.
This can result in serious flooding in areas adjacent to the river, affecting factories, houses, schools, roads and farmland.
Since 1975, Laos has lost more than 80 square kilometres of land along the Mekong, according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
Source: Vientiane Times