Photo taken on April 5, 2017 shows Chinese workers constructing the China-Laos railway's Muang Phonhong station in Laos. (Xinhua/Liu Ailun)
By Zhang Jianhua
MUANG PHONHONG, Laos, April 9 (Xinhua) -- "This is my office, and also my bedroom," Project Manager Cai Li told Xinhua reporter while pointing at a small tent amid the roar of generator.
Located at the construction site of China-Laos railway in Muang Phonhong district in Lao central Vientiane Province, Cai's so-called "office and bedroom" is made from simple bamboo shelves covered by large plastic sheets. There is no working table in her "office" but only a bed, while office equipments and materials were placed on the floor.
"We have only electric fan to cool down the heat. I slept only three or four hours a day these days. So fortunately the chef came the day before so we are now able to have good meals," the 50-year-old manager talked about her living conditions at the site. Cai has just arrived at the site of China-Laos railway in Muang Phonhong for one week.
"There is no other way because we have to rush to take advantages of dry season in Laos for construction," she said. Chinese companies are speeding up the construction of China-Laos railway after entering its first dry season since the railway construction was officially started on Dec. 25, 2016.
It is now dry season in Laos, the main construction period in tropical monsoon climate zone. Specifically for China-Laos railway construction, it is necessary to create favorable conditions for construction before the rainy season. For example, the tunnel must be excavated to a certain depth before the rainy season otherwise high rainfall might cause landslides.
China-Laos railway is a major strategic project which was reached and promoted by top leaders of the two countries. Speaking at the construction inaugural ceremony of China-Laos railway in late 2016, General Manager of China Railway International Co., Ltd and Chairman of Laos-China Railway Company Huang Difu said the China Railway Corporation will take the best of its advantages on railway management, technology and resources to lead other enterprises on survey and design, construction and equipment manufacturing among others, as well as cooperate with Lao government and relevant enterprises in order to construct and operate China-Laos railway in a good manner.
Photo taken on April 5, 2017 shows a Chinese cook preparing lunch at a temporary camp at the construction site of China-Laos railway's Muang Phonhong station, Laos. (Xinhua/Zhang Jianhua)
Huang pledged to resolutely implement the consensus reached by the two governments on railway construction and operation. On the basis of initial results, the company will continue strengthen communication and collaboration with Lao government at all levels, support each other, follow the plan and requirements so as to ensure high standards of quality and schedule, contributing to promoting socio-economic development of the two countries and prosperity of the two peoples.
China Railway No. 2 Group Co., Ltd is responsible for the construction of Muang Phonhong section. He Hongsong, head of construction commanding department of China Railway No. 2 Group Co., Ltd told Xinhua that the department held a meeting in early April to launch a campaign of "a 100-day of dry season working competition" to ensure the goal of full construction commence in June.
"We need to rush into the site and set up a safe, high quality working manner within 100 days in order to show the construction level of China railway agencies who dare to battle tough working conditions," Huang Ningshu, Party Secretary of the construction commanding department, said.
At the same time, the Lao side is also actively promoting the progress of China-Laos railway construction. At the end of March, the import of materials and equipments for railway construction embraced difficulties in Lao customs clearance. Right in early April, Lao government established a working group to approve the tax-free import of materials and equipments as well as set up a special lane for imports of materials and equipments for China-Laos railway construction.
Sometimes, villagers living near the construction site of China-Laos railway in Muang Phonhong took their children on motorcycles to the site for visit. Keobouphon Xayani (according to pronunciation), a Muang Phonhong villager, told reporter that villagers have been actively coordinating in construction demolition, while the initial construction of the railway has brought benefits to local residents.
"It is now easier for villagers to find jobs, while sales of agricultural products are better," the village chief told reporter.
The China-Laos railway has a total length of 414.332 kilometers with over 62.7 percent of bridges and tunnels, linking Mohan-Boten border gate in northern Laos and capital Vientiane. Operating speed on the route is designed at 160 km per hour. Construction of the project is scheduled for five years with investment of some 40 billion Chinese yuan (5.8 billion U.S. dollars), 70 percent of which comes from Chinese investment and the rest 30 percent from Lao side.
China-Laos railway is the first overseas route connecting with the railway system in China, using Chinese technology, equipment and investment.