Category Archives: breaking

Blue Emergency Polls in Vientiane to Provide Real-time Emergency Response Service

Emergency Pole Laos

Blue Emergency Poles, which began to appear across Vientiane a few months ago, are designed to provide a real-time emergency response service and on-the-spot assistance when necessary, the Laotian Times has learned.

Salavanh Province Sees Increase in Swine Fever Pig Deaths

China and Thailand Ban Pig Imports from Laos

Salavanh Province, located in the south of Laos, is witnessing an increase in the number of pig deaths amid the spread of African swine fever (ASF).

New Road Connects Thai Border to Luang Prabang, Reduces Travel Time

new road luang prabang to nan province

A new road connecting the Thai border at Nan Province with Luang Prabang Province in Laos has officially opened, cutting the travel time for visitors.

Laos To Launch Online eVisa Service in July

Laos to Launch Electronic eVisa Service

Laos will begin offering electronic tourist visa (eVisa) applications in July this year, allowing visitors to apply for a visa online prior to arriving in the country.

The official website for the e-visa application process is https://laoevisa.gov.la

The eVisa website will be jointly managed by the Lao Consular Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Public Security. Tourist visas valid for 30 days will be the first types of visas offered by the site, with other types of visas to be added at a later date.

The application process involves three simple steps, including the provision of documents and payment of an online fee, after which users can download an official eVisa approval letter.

Payments may be made with VISA or Mastercard credit card systems.

Special eVisa priority lanes will be available at seven ports:

Wattay International Airport
Luang Prabang International Airport
Pakse International Airport
Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I
Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II
Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge IV
Boten International Checkpoint

According to the website, the eVisa processing time will be up to three working days, and eVisa applications will include an extra 15 USD charge on top of the ordinary visa fee.

The eVisa system has been developed by the Lao government to boost efficiency in visa processing and as a more convenient way for tourists to apply for tourist visas.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visa on arrival services and visa applications at Lao embassies abroad will still be available for the time being.

Laos Swine Flu Outbreak Sees Thailand, China Ban Pig Imports

China and Thailand Ban Pig Imports from Laos

China and Thailand have both ban pork and pig product imports from Laos following the country’s first outbreak of African swine fever.

Vientiane’s 200-year-old Trees Demolished for Hotel Construction

Banyan trees hacked away by developers

Vientiane residents have taken to social media in protest of the felling of a number of trees along the capital’s riverside, purportedly to make room for construction of a new hotel.

Laos Improves Trade Regulations for Foreign Companies

Laos updates trade regulations

Foreign companies that export products to Laos will no longer require a domestic business license under new trade regulations issued by the Ministry of Commerce.

Mrs Khemmani Pholsena, Lao Minister of Industry and Commerce, issued a ministerial decision on June 6 ending the requirement for a domestic business license by foreign firms exporting products to Laos.

Under the new regulations, international companies wishing to export goods to Laos may simply submit a request for trading rights directly from the Import and Export Department.

To be granted trading rights, foreign firms will need to submit a request for certification at the Import and Export Department, Ministry of Industry and Commerce.  Eligibility will require foreign companies to be registered in countries that are members of the World Trade Organization, and provide evidence that they operate their businesses legally, and without having been investigated for financial crimes.

Certain documents will be required and will need to be verified by the Lao embassy in the countries where companies are registered, or by authorized representatives.

According to the ministry, the new Decision is part of a move to improve the business environment in Laos, and to assist Laos in moving up the ranks in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, where the country is currently ranked 154.

Laos and SK Engineering Clash over Cause of Dam Collapse

Attapeu Dam Death Toll Rises to 34
A South Korean construction firm has dismissed the latest findings by the Lao government that are cited as the reason for a fatal hydropower dam collapse last year in Laos.
 
SK Engineering & Construction said in a press release on 29 May that the company could not agree with the findings as they lack scientific basis and data. 
 
In July last year, a saddle dam at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy hydropower project collapsed after heavy rains, reportedly leaving at least 19 people dead and 6,630 living in emergency shelters and causing severe damage to private property and infrastructure.
 
The dam was part of a larger hydroelectric project in the region run by the Xe Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Company, a joint venture between SK Engineering & Construction and Korea Western Power, along with other smaller shareholders. 
 
The South Korean firm’s announcement came after the National Investigation Committee (NIC) formed by the Lao government said on 28 May that the dam collapse as not a “force majeure” event and it could have been prevented by adequate treatment measures.
 
The NIC’s conclusion was based on the result of the investigation by a panel of professional and independent experts (the Independent Expert Panel, or IEP). 
 
Vice President of the NIC Singphet Bounsavatthiphanh said at a press conference that even if rainfall was quite heavy on the days before the collapse of the dam, the reservoir level was still below the maximum operation level and well below the crest level when the failure started, as quoted by Vientiane Times. 
 
Vientiane Times added the IEP also found that the root cause of the failure was related to high permeability combined with erodible horizons mainly due to the existence of canaliculus interconnected paths. 
 
“As the water level rose during the filling of the reservoir, seepage flow developed in the foundation along these paths and horizons with high permeability. This resulted in internal erosion and softening of the laterite soil. When erosion and softening in the foundations reached a certain point, the dam stability was no longer ensured, and a deep rotational sliding at the highest section of the saddle dam was triggered,” the paper said. 
 
This finally led to complete breaching of the saddle dam and its foundations, resulting in the catastrophic uncontrolled release of water from the reservoir, Vientiane Times reported, adding that the foundation is without a doubt involved in the failure, which could have been prevented by adequate treatment measures.
 
Such findings prompted an immediate rejection by SK Engineering & Construction.
 
The South Korean firm said it conducted an analysis based on location, methodology and third-party analysis designated by the IEP, and the final data did not support the panel’s conclusion, as quoted by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency
 
“If the destruction was a result of what the IEP claimed, a large amount of soil leakage should have been found at the bottom of the saddle dam before the accident, but that was not the case,” SK Engineering & Construction said. 
 
The company also noted that teams sent by both the South Korean government and by a group of leading engineering firms to investigate the cause of the disaster, at the behest of the government of Laos, have different opinions from those included in the IEP report.
 
“We urge the Lao government to investigate and verify the cause of the accident in an objective and fair manner in order to find out the concrete cause at a time when the opinions of the specialised parties differ,” the company said. 
 
Meanwhile, SK Engineering & Construction vowed that it will continue to put efforts in recovering damages and compensating victims in Laos regardless of the announcement of the results.