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National Road Committee Proposes Fund to Keep Roads in Good Condition

Source: Vientiane Times

The National Road Safety Committee is considering setting up a National Road Fund to finance the maintenance and repair of roads across the country.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Mr. Ngampasong Muongmany told the National Assembly that the Committee met recently to discuss the idea.

Money from the Fund would be used to make roads safer and help to reduce the number of accidents, aiming to cut the accident rate by 50 percent by 2030. On average, about 1,000 people die in road accidents each year and many more are injured.

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“We would like to cut the number of deaths by 50 percent from 1,000 to 500 people, which is a big challenge. About 60 percent of these deaths are caused by people driving at high speeds and driving while drunk,” Mr Ngampasong said.

National road safety partly depends on adequate funding being available to keep roads in good condition and make them safe, he added.

The National Road Fund would replace the Road Fund which was set up in 2001.

“The Road Fund finances the maintenance and repair of national roads and local roads, builds new roads, funds emergency repairs and construction, and is used by the Vientiane Urban Development and Administration Authority for road repair,” Mr Ngampasong said.

The money for the Road Fund comes from vehicles entering and exiting the four bridges that span the Lao-Thai border across the Mekong, from fines charged to motorists, and various other sources.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has threatened to fine companies whose heavily laden trucks damage roads and may also revoke their operating concession agreement.

The ministry recommends that companies use their own scales to weigh trucks to ensure they do not exceed set weight limits.

The main cause of road damage is the increasing number of trucks carrying heavy loads to and from construction sites and mining operations, Mr Ngampasong said.

The problem is particularly severe in provinces bordering neighboring countries, which see the heaviest traffic.

Currently, about 6,700 kilometers of roads have suffered damage and 79 bridges have been damaged or broken.

Some project operators fail to comply with the conditions laid down in concession agreements.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport and other relevant parties have agreed that if a project operator does not comply with the concession agreement, such as the obligation to repair damaged roads, the company responsible will be required to pay a fine.