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4,369b kip Needed to Repair Riverbank Erosion

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Repairs to riverbank erosion along the Mekong and one of its tributaries, the Heuang River, will cost about 4,369 billion kip, Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Bounchan Sinthavong has said.

Dr Bounchan made the statement on Wednesday when answering questions put by National Assembly (NA) members concerning riverbank protection during the ongoing debate session.

Some 289 kilometres of riverbank along the Mekong in various parts of the country and alongside the Heuang in Xayaboury province have crumbled, and about 120 km has been shored up with the building of embankments.

Dr Bounchan said there are now about 168 km of riverbank that are suffering from erosion and it will cost 4,369 billion kip to carry out repairs and build embankments.

“The National Assembly will have a big headache with this matter because the cost of shoring up these areas is high,” he said.

A survey undertaken by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport found that sections of riverbank in the provinces of Borikhamxay, Bokeo and Xayaboury had collapsed.

A 520-metre section of the Mekong riverbank in Tonpheung district, Bokeo province, was found to be eroded and it would cost more than 13.8 billion kip to rebuild it.

An official told Vientiane Times that since embankments have been built along the Mekong, less erosion is occurring than in the past, after several square kilometres of land disappeared into the river in years gone by.

In some areas 10 to 20 metres of the riverbank eroded away over a period of many years, and even today two to three metres of riverbank is being lost during flooding.

According to the ministry, the Mekong riverbank is increasingly being protected against erosion through the construction of embankments, with the work beginning in 2007 and 2008.

Many towns located along the Mekong are now protected, including Vientiane, and about 50 percent of the riverbank running through towns has been shored up against erosion.

The Mekong River floods perennially during the rainy season in July and August.

A 79-kilometre section of the Mekong riverbank in Borikhamxay province is in need of an embankment, but less than one kilometre has any defences against erosion.

A provincial official, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times that a survey of 197 kilometres along the Me kong in the districts of Pakxan, Thaphabath and Pakkading revealed that 79 kilometres were subject to subsidence in the rainy season.

In October last year, people living in 14 houses in the Phonson area of Phabath village in Thaphabath district had to move out quickly after four houses slid into the Mekong and 10 houses were damaged due to torrential rain.

Source: Vientiane Times