The US$6 billion Laos-China railway which is expected to kickoff operations on December 2 – marking the 46th anniversary of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic – will unarguably change the face of the land-locked communist country of 7 million people, which has been in the shadows for a long time as far as regional prominence goes.
The inauguration of the 422-kilometer rail link between Botan, on the Lao-Chinese border, to Vientiane, the Lao capital, will force a much needed revision to plans for greater infrastructure connectivity in mainland Southeast Asia. It will also beam a searchlight on China’s growing economic clout in the region, especially in little Laos.
To China’s credit, the project was completed on schedule, keeping strictly to its five-year time target, and the railway – passing through 75 tunnels, over 77 bridges – is now fully completed.
“Now the railway is here,” said Lattanamany Khounyvong, a former Deputy Minister of Public Works and the Transport Ministry, who worked on the project since serious discussions began in 2009.
“Even though Laos and China invested in this project, it is available for every country,” Lattanamany told a webinar organized by the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).
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