Nam Phou: City Centre or Dumping Centre ?
Nam Phou, located in Vientiane’s city center, always has been a meeting place for local residents spending time relaxing and enjoying their free time. During French colonialism, the area was designed as a market before being developed into a fountain 50 years ago.
One year ago, after being renovated, the Nam Phou fountain reopened to the public and international tourists. The developer, Asia Investment and Finance Service Company, had been granted with a concession lasting 30 years.
The authorities stipulated that the developer has to provide all the necessary rubbish collection facilities, adequate waste water and drainage systems, and take any other environmental issues into account. In addition the redevelopment should not encroach too far into the open space surrounding the fountain and the area should be beautified by planting more shrubs and trees.
Last but not least the developer is also responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the area, to ensure it remains clean and tidy.
So far so good … but have you visited the Nam Phou area recently ? You will be surprised, guaranteed ! In every corner there are rubbish bags piling up and the public space is obstructed with metal structures for tents, wood and metal scrap. If that isn’t enough to scare of the visitors, the piled up chairs and tables (mostly all broken) will do the rest.
Before the redevelopment the Nam Phou was surrounded by beautiful garden and plants, now the square has been “sealed off” by wooden booths, waiting to be rent out to food providers. The public is left with few access and there are no possibilities to rest and relax for them.
The main attraction, the fountain itself, is only put to work in the evening, while during the day it looks broken and “out of work”. The entire Nam Phou area looks dirty and very badly maintained.
The redevelopment of the square has changed the face of one of Vientiane’s oldest and most popular public spaces, unfortunately not for the better. Nam Phou and the people of Vientiane deserve better ….. maybe it’s time again for another round of redevelopment.