During the annual conference of the Public Works and Transport sector held this week, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith cautioned that decisions regarding water and air transportation projects must be thoroughly thought out in future.
The Prime Minister emphasized land transport to be the primary focus of transportation development in the country. He commended the sector for their accomplishments over the past forty years, noting that tremendous progress had been made in infrastructure development.
During the meeting, a number of leaders and officials from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, along with other participants including business professionals and retired officials, were reminded of the government’s efforts in converting the country from landlocked to land-linked and to create a transportation hub in the region.
A massive venture in this regard, PM Thongloun mentioned the expansion of the 3.5 km Laos-Thailand Railway to 7.5 km, a plan to build a railway to connect Khammuan Province’s capital to a port in Vietnam and the highly anticipated Laos-China Railway, among other projects.
The Prime Minister has also disclosed information about a recent meeting with deputy prime ministers, confirming a continued cooperation with Thailand and the development of a road system valued at 2 billion baht.
The PM stated,“From the geographic specification of our country, we have to focus on land transportation as key to the heart of transportation, travel and tourism.”
He urged the Ministry to improve the quality of road infrastructure by strategically planning and completing any road projects that had already been initiated, but to avoid the implementation of several projects simultaneously in fear of inadequate completion.
When referring to Build, Operate and Transfer projects, Prime Minister Thongloun specified that alternative options must be available aside from tollways.
The PM highlighted Lao civil aviation, stating that he appreciated the sector having received certification from the International Civil Aviation Organisation on Universal Safety, after scoring 73 percent in an audit.
However, Lao civil aviation services remain behind other ASEAN countries and need improvement in service quality. Detailed studies on any plans for airport construction were called upon, with the PM counseling against the construction airports in provinces that have no demand for passenger flights, such as Attapeu Province, where the airport was recently shut down.
When questioned whether water transportation could be an option for the country, the PM admirably reasoned with the Ministry to consider the matter thoroughly, wisely stating, “Do not do any unreasonable projects on the Mekong River. Let it be the river of life, it’s enough for small boats to float on it.” He continued making his case by referring to the Mekong River as the “Mother of property” and “Mother of life” to dependant citizens settled in the region.
Regarding the matter of urban planning and housing, Mr Thongloun proposed conserving old historic buildings while planning to develop more modern structures as well.
Prime Minister Thongloun is imploring the Ministry to be stricter on the rules and regulations to prohibit unregulated construction of residences and the violation of town and city plans.