Deputy Mayor Discusses Removal of Police Checkpoints across Vientiane Capital

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Police checkpont in Vientiane Capital
Police checkpont in Vientiane Capital (Photo: Kaikeo Sayasane)

The Deputy Mayor of Vientiane Capital has conceded that police checkpoints in the city were removed recently to prevent economic collapse.

Despite an increase in cases of Covid-19, police were instructed to remove checkpoints that had been established around the city during the lockdown period to maintain a balance between public health and economic concerns.

Deputy Mayor of Vientiane Captial, Mr. Phouvong Vongkhamsao, told Vientiane Mai on Wednesday that while police had initially attempted to restrict traffic and enforce a stay-at-home order during the lockdown from 19 to 30 October, they were met with strong opposition from the public.

Residents took to social media to express dissatisfaction regarding the police checkpoints, with many continuing to commute via side roads and circumvent the blockades.

A Google map was even created by the public to display updated information on the location of the checkpoints, allowing motorists to plan their trip in advance.

Meanwhile, in an effort to reduce crowding at shops and markets, the Department of Industry and Commerce ordered supermarkets and other retailers to close, with the unintended effect of causing further crowding as residents rushed to purchase household goods before the order came into effect.

Recognizing the problem, authorities quickly reversed their decision, issuing a new order allowing supermarkets and minimarts to reopen, this time imposing strict limitations on the number of shoppers and hours of operation.

Local news media reported mass violations of the stay-at-home order as hundreds of vehicles took to the roads, prompting police to increase checkpoints across the city.

Deputy Mayor Phouvong Vongkhamsao
Deputy Mayor of Vientiane Capital, Mr. Phouvong Vongkhamsao.

Finally, authorities conceded that preventing residents from reaching their workplaces or businesses would lead to severe economic hardship.

“We quickly saw the need to maintain a balance between controlling the Covid-19 outbreak and preventing economic collapse,” said Deputy Mayor Phouvong.

Police have removed checkpoints from major roads, while some checkpoints remain in place in outer districts, and red zones are to be blockaded as well.