Vientiane Times, January 23, 2013
The Xayaboury Power Company has been accelerating construction of the Xayaboury run-of-river dam after getting the green light from the Lao government to go ahead with the 1,280MW hydropower plant on the Mekong mainstream at the end of last year.
Construction of the Xayaboury dam on the Mekong mainstream began in November last year.
“After the groundbreaking ceremony in November, we have been speeding up construction of the dam because work was delayed by one year,” the company’s Deputy Managing Director Mr Rewat Suwanakitti said last week.
On January 18 the government invited representatives of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) member countries to visit the site of the dam, the first to be built on the lower Mekong River. Development partners and media personnel also visited the dam, to observe the progress that has been made.
Mr Rewat said the company had already spent 10 percent of the total project cost of US$3.5 billion on preparatory work, the resettlement of local communities away from the project site, and construction of the dam itself.
The company is now focusing on building a navigation lock and sluice gates on the right side of the Mekong, with these components expected to be finished within two years.
The power company will then block the flow of water on the left side of the river so they can start construction of the powerhouse. The whole project is expected to be complete in 2018.
Mr Rewat said the company is currently employing about 4,000 construction workers, more than 50 percent of whom are Lao while the rest are Thai. He said they would need about 10,000 workers when construction work peaks over the next three years.
The Xayaboury Power Company has finished relocating the residents of Houay Souy village, which was one of several villages located on the project site. Xayaboury province has provided the families who have relocated with farmland in Xayaboury district, as well as financial compensation and job opportunities.
The company is now moving households who live in villages on the Mekong riverbank up to higher ground. These villages will be flooded when the dam is built.
The Lao government decided to go ahead with construction of the dam after completing the required prior consultation process with MRC member countries in keeping with the 1995 Mekong agreement. The MRC member countries raised no objection to the project.
The dam project developer redesigned the dam to ensure sediment flow and the passage of fish, as these were the major issues of concern on the part of the downstream Mekong River countries.
The government expects to earn US$3.9 billion from the Xayaboury dam throughout the 29 year concession period, including US$1.897 billion in royalties and US$637 million in taxes. The average annual revenue earned from the project is expected to be US$135 million a year, which the government will use for poverty reduction projects, according to officials.