Compensation underway for southern Laos' dam collapse victims

Rescuers recovered 19 bodies and hundreds remain missing after a dam collapse swamped several villages in Sanamxai, Attapeu province in southern Laos in July 2018.- AFP

VIENTIANE (Xinhua): Compensation is underway for local villagers and businesses impacted by the 2018 collapse of an auxiliary dam of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project in southern Laos' Attapeu province, local daily Vientiane Times quoted a deputy prime minister as saying on Thursday (July 9).

Addressing the recent ordinary session of the National Assembly (NA), Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone said authorities of the southern province on April 10 signed a deal with the project developers on the compensation and rehabilitation. The total compensation and rehabilitation costs would amount to more than 828 billion kip (about US$91.7 million).

The dam collapse in July 2018 caused flash floods that inundated villages in the province's Sanamxay district, some 560km southeast of Lao capital Vientiane, killing dozens of villagers and leaving thousands of people homeless.

Several villages in the district were wiped out by the flash floods. The government said thousands of villagers have encountered hardship as all their belongings were swept away by the flooding, one of the worst deluges in the Lao history.

More than 475 billion kip ($52.6 million) would be paid for compensation for deceased people, orphans and impacted assets of the affected villagers and businesses. More than 353 billion kip (some $39.1 million) would be paid for rehabilitation work, including restoration of public infrastructure such as transport facilities, according to the report.

Companies developing the project have spent more than 8 billion kip (some $0.89 million) compensating families of the deceased victims and orphans whose parents were killed by the disaster, according to Sonexay.

Household businesses impacted by the disaster, other enterprises and damaged infrastructure are also compensated.

"However, the assessment for the lost and damaged buildings, cash and other valuable items has not been completed; therefore, the compensation for these assets has not been achieved," the report quoted Sonexay as saying.

"Companies (developers of the project) will compensate later," Sonexay, who is also the minister of planning and investment, responded to a question raised at the NA session.

He added that progress had been made in building new permanent housing for displaced villagers. Construction work has begun on 700 houses with compensation money from Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Company Limited and SK Engineering and Construction of South Korea, one of the four stakeholders of the hydropower project. - Xinhua

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