RI Passes By, Laos Secretly Already Has Fast Trains

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – The Laos government has inaugurated the high-speed train service, Thursday (11/2/2021) with a celebration of the Buddhist blessing ceremony. This means that the land of a thousand elephants, which has the first high-speed train in Southeast Asia, has beaten Indonesia.

Launch Reuters, The high-speed rail project, which costs US$6 billion, was initiated by China to link the southeastern Chinese city of Kunming to the Laotian capital, Vientiane. With a length of rail that stretches more than 1,000 km across mountains and water systems.

The Laos news agency (KPL) said the project was part of the government’s strategy to transform Laos from a landlocked country to a country connected to other regions.

The railway line, which China hopes to reach as far as Singapore, is part of the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

A state with a population of 7 million people with a gross domestic product (GDP) of US $ 18 billion in 2019, making Laos the poorest country in Asia.

Photo: Inauguration of the Laos-China high-speed rail project. (REUTERS/PHOONSAB THEVONGSA)
Inauguration of the Laos-China high-speed rail project. (REUTERS/PHOONSAB THEVONGSA)

So many economists are worried that due to this train project, Laos will find it difficult to pay off its foreign debt, which is mostly to China.

It is known that China holds a 70% stake in the high-speed rail joint venture, which was founded in 2015. With a total investment of 50.55 billion Yuan, or the equivalent of US$ 7.93 billion, although the Lao news agency KPL wrote the value was US$ 5.90 billion.

Previously, there were previous claims that the fast train in Indonesia was the first in the Southeast Asia region. The project, which was started in 2016, has been delayed by several years due to many problems.

Initially, the target for the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train was completed in 2019, but now it has been delayed by September 2022. The construction of this train is also being pursued to be exhibited to world leaders because Indonesia will host the G20 Summit in 2022.

[Gambas:Video CNBC]

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