A large number of Chinese workers gave up their New Year holiday plans this week to ensure construction of the Laos-China railway stays on track.

“Most of the Chinese workers and engineers have to go without a holiday and stay at construction sites,”

The Communist Party of China (CPC) secretary of the joint working committee of the China-Laos railway, Mr Xiao Qianwen, said as quoted.

“Chinese staff can be busier during the Spring Festival than usual since the construction of the outstanding project under the Belt and Road Initiative is entering the critical and decisive phase in 2019.”

Map of all Railroads Lead to China
Photo: Map of all Railroads Lead to China

The Chinese Lunar New Year or Spring Festival began yesterday. Traditionally, Chinese people around the world use this special occasion to gather and celebrate their success and offer thanks to their ancestors.

But to make sure all the key components of the railway are completed by the set times, the workers have to sacrifice their holidays, according to the official.

In addition, project supervisors know that the dry season has the best weather conditions to enable work to continue at a fast pace. The rainy season, which lasts for several months, creates very challenging conditions for construction work, especially given Laos’ hilly terrain. Even though workers were not able to return home for the holiday, they celebrated the New Year at construction sites.

In Boten, Chinese and Lao staff decorated their dormitories and offices with red lanterns and New Year good wishes and couplets, which symbolise Chinese customs. In addition, some Chinese workers sent videos to their families to let them know they were taking part in traditional festivities and were not missing out on the fun altogether.
Construction of the 414-km China railway began in 2016.

The Lao and Chinese governments agreed to re-schedule the completion date to December 2, 2021, which is 29 days earlier than the original deadline of December 31, 2021.

The change means completion of the US$5.986 billion railway will coincide with the 46th anniversary of the founding of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (December 2, 1975 – December 2, 2021).

The government is confident that the railway will play a key role in transforming Laos from being landlocked to a regional land link. The Laos-China railway is part of a much longer line that runs from Kunming south to Singapore.

The Chinese government believes construction of the railway network as part of the Belt and Road Initiative will boost trade and relations between China and ASEAN member countries.