Government Fails in Promise to Deliver Assistance to Victims of Laos Dam Burst


2018-11-27
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laosdam People return home as water recedes in a flooded village in Sanamxay district, Attapeu province, Laos Thursday, July 26, 2018.
AP

Survivors of July’s disaster at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy (PNPC) hydropower project in Champassak, Laos are calling upon the local and national governments for relief, after failing to receive promised allowances for living expenses for the past two month., according to a local official.

Two months ago the Lao government agreed to pay $12 per month to each person who was affected by the collapse of PNPC’s dam, which swept away homes and caused severe flooding in up to 12 villages downstream in Champassak and neighboring Attapeu Province. According to the Asia Times, the disaster killed at least 43 people, with hundreds more missing. It has been described as Laos’ worst flooding in decades.

An official from the Sanamxay District of Attapeu Province told RFA’s Lao Service on Sunday that “the victims have received food allowances but they haven’t received any of the $12 living allowance.”

“It’s been almost two months that they haven’t been paid for living expenses,” the official said.

The official also said that recipients of the food assistance complained that the rice they received was low-quality or rotten.

On November 17, National Assemblyman Phetkeo Leuangpanya, who is the chairman of the People’s Council of Attapeu Province, visited victims in Sanamxay asking them if they had concerns, difficulties and requests he could bring up with his colleagues at the assembly.

A victim told Leuangpanya and later RFA, “We don’t need any more bottled water. Instead the authorities should provide each family with water filters so we can filter the water from the wells. Local authorities have run out of money.”

Leuangpanya responded to this and other requests by saying, “As chairman of the Attepeu People’s Council, I would like to express concerns and sympathy to you all.

“I’d also like to encourage you to be strong and to always believe in the Party and government. I’ll bring your concerns to the national and provincial assemblies as soon as possible,” Leuangpanya said.

Previous RFA reports indicate that in the hours before the collapse, bureaucratic inefficiencies within PNPC and the local government and communication issues caused delays in preparation for the impending disaster.

Reported by Max Avary for RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by RFA’s Lao Service. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

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