Luang Namtha province: — Officials at Boten international checkpoint in Luang Namtha province are working hard to introduce measures to minimise traffic chaos at the crossing between the two countries as the Laos-China railway project commences.
Head of the management committee for the Boten international checkpoint, Mr Phonsay Chanthasone, told the press on Thursday that about 400 cars and heavy trucks from Laos, China and other countries are crossing the Laos-China border daily.
However Chinese construction companies have informed border officials that they intend to bring between 500 or 1,000 vehicles across the border for the construction of Laos-China railway project.
“The Chinese trucks are very big and long and this will cause traffic congestion so the border will have to remain open longer,” Mr Phonsay said.
Chinese construction companies said their vehicles will cross the border in September this year but border officials have yet to see them so far, he added.
According to the Luang Namtha provincial Public Works and Transport Office, the construction of the railway project in the province has yet to actually commence because some landmine clearance activities are holding up the process.
Currently, Boten border checkpoint is closed at 8:00pm but when the 500 or 1,000 Chinese vehicles come to cross into Laos, the border officials plan to remain open until 10:00pm in a bid to reduce traffic congestion.
Mr Phonsay added that the construction of the Laos-China railway is good because it will reduce the number of vehicles being used for cross border goods transportation.
Right now, the roads in the country are quite small and their quality is not very high, he said.
The total value of goods imported and exported via the Boten international border was estimated at US$86 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
Officials reported that there are 250,000 people including tourists and traders crossing the border in a year.
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Laos has received Official Development Assistance from China and its citizens of about 1.3 billion yuan and this figure continues to increase each year.
China provided interest-free loans of about 1.3 billion yuan and about 8.6 billion yuan in low interest loans from 2005 to 2015 for the development of infrastructure, education and healthcare in Laos.
Laos recently approved the Vision 2030 which aims to raise its development status to that of a high middle-income country.
The 2025 Socio-economic Development Strategy has set out the conditions for achieving this status, with Gross Domestic Production (GDP) per capita targeted to double compared to the 2015 figure, to reach US$3,940 per capita.
The main indicator identified in the 8th National Socio-economic Development Plan for 2016-2020 is an average GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent, which must be achieved if Laos is to graduate from Least Developed Country status in 2020.
Source: Vientiane Times