"This road is built by a Chinese company and we are now counting on it to make a living and get rich" a Laotian truck driver told the reporter. As a part of China's free aid to Laos, the road was built by Yunnan Sunny Road & Bridge Co., Ltd., China. Locally called "The Highway of Laos", the road runs for 78.8 kilometers from Oudomxay, a key hub town in north Laos, to Na Toei, a border town with China.
Xun Jiazheng, Board Chairman of Yunnan Sunny Road & Bridge Co., Ltd., told the reporter that the China-aided north section of Na Toei - Oudomxay Road was commenced in 2009 and completed in May 2012. And the 80-kilometer long south section from Pak Mong to Oudomxay, which was financed by the low-interest loan extended to Laos from China, will also be built by Sunny Road & Bridge and is scheduled to be commenced by the end of this year.
Whenever talking of the Na Toei - Oudomxay Road, Laotian drivers thumb up. "It's an amazing road, better than the one in Vientiane, we can drive fast, really fast", said Khamsay, a truck driver, too. The road starts from a bridge standing in Oudomxay, and after crossing the bridge, drivers will find themselves on the smooth asphalt pavement, 7 meters wide, rather than 6 meters as before. Though still a mountain road, drivers will now see clearly-marked traffic signs throughout the road, with comfortable riding quality.
Though rapid economic development and growth seen in recent years, Laos national economy remains considerably constrained by its shortage of transport facilities. Vigi Xinde Un, Laos Assistant Minister of Investment, told the reporter that Kunming-Bangkok Highway and Na Toei-Oudomxay Road are channeling into Laos an increasing number of self-drive visitors who are then scared away by the awful condition of poorly-maintained roads in the country. Although the international tourist bus from Kunming to Luang Prabang in Laos has been available for some time, it takes as long as two days due to the awful condition of the 80-kilometer long section from Pak Mong to Oudomxay. A bus driver told the reporter: "There will be much more Chinese visitors if this section is repaired, because it then takes only half a day to Luang Prabang from China-Laos Border."
Laos Minister of Transport Sommad told the reporter, somewhat discouraged, "every rainy season, we are completely exhausted from keeping traffic moving on roads. Road transport is of extreme importance to Laos, especially Road 13, on which the country's economy heavily relies. Repairing and upgrading Road 13 will greatly promote the tourism, goods transport and economic cooperation between China and Laos. ”
Source: People's Daily
Photographs by: Yu Jinghao, Reporter at People's Daily