Transport Sector Booms In Laos

Laos has witnessed a steady growth in the transportation sector along with greater connectivity in the region following the government’s enormous investment in the development of infrastructure.

The road networks in Laos now extends to a total of 43,600 kilometres in total across the country in 2013, which is an expansion of more than 7 percent compared with the previous year.

According to a report from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport 6,496 kilometres of the road throughout the country is not paved.

The volume of goods transport is growing by between 5-8 percent per year, while the volume of passenger transport grows between 8-10 percent yearly.

In 2012 goods transport via water routes reached 923,000 tonnes, which is a growth rate of 11.6 percent compared to 2011.

However, the transport of passengers on water routes dropped 11.7 percent to 1.9 million people in 2012.

In order to boost water transport, the ministry is working towards maintaining a water route along the Mekong River from the border area shared by Laos, China and Myanmar. The 333 kilometre distance allows cargo ships as heavy as 150 tonnes to sail throughout the year.

Markers have been put along the route to help with the navigation of cargo ships. Air transport has gained remarkable progress and achievements over the recent years.

The air transport sector has generated steady and increasing revenue for the state budget. It brought in revenue of US$42.43 million for the 2012-13 financial year, marking an increase of 56.39 percent compared with the 2007-08 fiscal year when only US$27.13 million was earned.

The number of air transport passengers grew by 15 percent in 2012 compared with 2011 while air transport of cargo and other goods grew by only 8.78 percent.

It was reported previously that national carrier Lao Airlines recorded significant increases in passenger numbers in recent years. In 2010, Lao Airlines carried approximately 500,000 passengers but in 2012 the figure jumped to around 900,000.

Laos has signed bilateral agreements on air transport with eight Asean countries. The only country with which it is yet to sign an agreement with is the Philippines.

Similar agreements have been signed with Hong Kong, Macao, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. The Lao government is currently negotiating agreements with Japan, Australia, France, Iceland, Turkey, Sri Lanka, India, Qatar, and the United Kingdom.

Laos also plans to amend its agreements on air transport with China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Beside the bilateral agreements, Laos has signed a multilateral agreement on air transport with Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Asean is preparing an Action Plan for open skies by 2015 when the Asean economic community is due to be established.

This will be done under the Asean air transport agreement.

According to the report, Asean has also signed a master agreement on air transport with China

The next project sees Laos seeking finance to construct a US$7 billion railway line which will link Vientiane to the Chinese border.

Source: Vientiane Times