Plans to turn Vientiane’s That Luang marsh into an attractive urban development envisage an area of green spaces, wetlands, a public park, new roads, residential areas, and commercial centres.
A Japanese company has drawn up plans that are intended to serve as a guideline for the sustainable development of the marsh until 2030.
Government officials gathered in Vientiane on Friday to finalise the plan before submitting it to the government for approval next year.The plan would divide That Luang marsh into five zones, covering an area of 2,200 hectares, of which 660 hectares would be dry land and the rest wetlands.
A commercial zone is planned in the vicinity of the That Luang stupa and the Lao Stock Exchange. A second zone is located near to a planned railway station and includes a residential area and trading centres.
The third zone is close to the marsh itself and includes cultural attractions and residential areas, as well as green spaces. The fourth zone is designed to be a peaceful area that features a residential area, along with commercial and government offices.
The fifth zone is an industrial zone that will be located near the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge and also include an amusement park and residential area.
Officials told Vientiane Times the plan also incorporates 27 roads, of which three will be six-lane roads. One of these six-lane roads will link the Phonthan T-junction through the marsh to the villages of Nonvay and Nakhuay and then join the 450 Year Road. Construction work is expected to begin soon.
Vientiane authorities estimate that total investment of at least one trillion kip will be needed to develop this a rea. It is envisaged that about 55,000 people would live in the new development.
As stipulated in the plan, the level of the marsh will be lowered by one metre by digging down to that depth. Some participants at Friday’s meeting presented plans on how canals would drain the water so as to prevent flooding in Vientiane.
That Luang marsh is considered to be the lungs of Vientiane and the sink that drains the city’s waste water. The marsh helps to prevent Vientiane from flooding, so it is essential that sound plans are drawn up for its development.
According to a 2009 survey, Vientiane covers 3,920 sq km and has a population of 795,000. Authorities believe the population will double by 2030.
The capital is already experiencing traffic problems as most offices are located in the town centre. The roads cannot be widened as they are lined with buildings.
The authorities plan to create several urban sub-centres to address these issues and make the city more liveable and ensure that facilities are accessible to local residents.
Most people agree that if That Luang marsh is developed as planned, Vientiane could be one of the most liveable and sustainable cities in the region.