South Korea to help Laos with rail link plan


THE KOREA International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) will provide US$3 million (Bt106 million) in aid to help Laos conduct a feasibility study for a railway link from Vientiane to Vung Ang, Vietnam.

Kim Hahng-joo, the resident representative of the KOICA Office in Laos, and Dr Sompong Pholsena, director-general of the Railway Department at the Laotian Ministry of Public Works and Transport, signed a record of discussion on the project last Wednesday at the KOICA office in Vientiane. 
The project aims to develop railway transport in Laos and to contribute to human and institutional capacity building in the fields of railway development planning and engineering technology.
It also hopes to contribute to the acceleration of Asean economic integration by enhancing rail connectivity between Laos and Vietnam.
Before signing the record of discussion, KOICA sent a group of experts from the Korea Rail Network Authority and the University of Seoul on two trips to Laos to carry out a pre-feasibility study and implementation survey.
They studied the 550-kilometre section of the proposed railway linking Vientiane, Thakhek, Mugia and Vung Ang last March as well as in July.
As a result of the two visits by the experts, KOICA made detailed plans for the project’s implementation and finalised the record of discussion with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport based upon mutual agreement.
“It is expected that this project will resolve the logistics- and transportation-related challenges Laos now faces as a landlocked country,” Kim said.
“Therefore, this project is timely and significant for Laos to transform from a landlocked into a land-linked nation, accelerating Asean economic integration,” the KOICA representative said.