Roundup: China-Laos Railway paves way for socio-economic development of Laos

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VIENTIANE, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- The China-Laos Railway has bolstered its transport capacity and efficiency since it was launched two years ago, opening up opportunities for Laos' economic development, boosting tourism, and improving people's livelihood in Laos.

Since its operation on Dec. 3, 2021, the China-Laos Railway has turned the land-locked country into a land-linked hub in the Indo-China Peninsula, helping Laos effectively overcome its development barriers and improving the Lao people's livelihood.

The railway marks a monumental and historic milestone in developing modern infrastructure for Laos, Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith told the launching ceremony, calling it "a proud moment and the dream of all ethnic groups of Laos."

Marking the first anniversary of the operation of the railway last year, Lao Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone hailed the quality service for passenger and freight transportation of the cross-border railway and its contribution to the socio-economic development of Laos.

Speaking at an event marking the second anniversary of the China-Laos Railway in Vientiane on Friday, Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Ngampasong Muongmany appraised the strong performance of the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd. (LCRC) in terms of safety, natural disaster surveillance, passenger and goods transport, the training of Lao employees, and its social responsibility performance over the past two years.

The railway has become an important route connecting Southeast Asia with China, Asia and Europe. It is a route of development and friendship that benefits the Lao and Chinese peoples, he added.

The railroad has greatly enhanced Laos' international strategic position, thus turning Laos into an important hub for transportation in the region.

Since its operation in December 2021, the Lao section of the China-Laos Railway has carried over 3 million passengers, averaging 4,889 passengers a day and with a record high of 10,197 passengers in one day, according to an LCRC report in September.

The number of passengers soared to over 1.75 million from January to September in 2023, a 103.7-percent jump over the same period in 2022.

The Lao government, which has made tourism a top priority to revitalize its economy, has witnessed a surge in tourist numbers partly attributed to the popularity of the China-Laos Railway.

More than 2.4 million foreign tourists visited Laos in the first nine months of 2023, up 285 percent from a year ago, according to statistics from the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

In terms of freight transport, the China-Laos Railway has transported over 3 million tons of goods in the first eight months of 2023, an increase of 138 percent year-on-year. The imported goods to Laos from China reached 344,700 tons, while the exported goods to China from Laos stood at 2,752,200 tons.

The main products exported to China included fruits, cassava flour, barley, rubber, beer, iron ore, rock and chemical fertilizers.

In total, the China-Laos Railway has ferried over 5 million tons of cargo since it was put into operation in 2021.

Speaking at the National Dialogue on Investment in Sustainable Livestock Transformation in Laos on Nov. 6-7, Kaviphone Phouthavong, director general of the Department of Livestock and Fisheries under the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, said Laos has huge potential to boost livestock production for exports following the inauguration of the China-Laos Railway.

Livestock plays a pivotal role in the Lao agricultural sector, accounting for more than a third of the sector's value-added products.

Besides transport and logistics benefits, the railway is creating job opportunities for thousands of Laotians, who have been recruited to assist at construction sites, as well as as train attendants and assistant drivers.

On Oct. 12, the Lao railway vocational technical college, the first of its kind in Laos, was inaugurated in Vientiane to train personnel for the China-Laos Railway.

Director General of the Technical Vocational Education Department of the Lao Ministry of Education and Sports Nouphan Outsa said the college was an important contribution to the training of personnel for efficient operation of the railway.

Senior officials from Laos and China were in agreement on the need for a training center so that Laotians could be employed on the railway.

The China-Laos Railway connects Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province with the Lao capital Vientiane. The 1,035-km railway, a landmark project of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, started operation on Dec. 3, 2021. Enditem

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