Vientiane Times, February 18, 2014
Xayaboury Hydroelectric Power Project (XHPP) in Xayaboury province wants as many Lao labourers as possible to work with the project, but many local people still prefer other occupations.
Many people in the newly built villages like to domesticate animals, plant crops and catch fish to sell to the Xayaboury Hydroelectric Power Project (XHPP) rather than working with the project site.
However, some people in the newly built villages are working for XHPP, according to the company’s Deputy Managing Director, Mr Rewat Suwannkitti, who spoke with *Vientiane Times * on Sunday whilst the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Bounthavy Sisouphangthong and his delegation toured the project site.
“Most people don’t come to work with us as they’re receiving more money from sales than working in the construction of the barrage,” Mr Rewat said.
Today the villagers in the barrage project area are raising animals, fish in fishponds, and growing vegetables to earn an income because the project developers are buying all their produce.
Some families are not only making fishponds but also catching Mekong fish to sell to XHPP, which caters for its workers.
However, the Xayaboury food supply is not sufficient to meet the daily demand of the 9,000 odd workers so a large proportion of the food is imported from Thailand.
Since the groundbreaking ceremony for XHPP took place at the site of the barrage at the end of 2012, over 9,000 workers have joined the project site thus far.
Workers for XHPP come from some 15 countries, but the Lao workforce at the site numbers over 5,000 people, about 60 percent of which are labourers while some are engineers.
Thai labourers make up the second largest proportion, numbering some 2,000 workers at the construction site.
Mr Rewat said that early next year the construction site will be expanded and the country wants to add another 1,000 workers to boost the capacity of construction.
“We will accept any Lao people from Xayaboury province including people from the 16 villages of Xayaboury and LuangPrabang provinces who live along the Mekong River and must move to make way for Xayaboury barrage,”he revealed.
Currently, Lao labourers who are working on the barrage come not on ly from Xayaboury province, but also from Vientiane province and other provinces.
Xayaboury barrage will have a generating capacity of 1,285MW, requiring investment capital of about US$3.8 billion to reach completion.
Construction is now 22 percent complete and the project is slated to be operational by in 2019, with the bulk of the electricity to be sold to Thailand once it commences generation.
The sale of electricity will also bring in significant revenue, which will help Laos to achieve the Millennium Developm ent Goals and graduate from least developed country status by 2020 as targeted.