Laos: Huge development project underway in Siphandone
17:15 JST, March 23, 2022
Khong district, an island situated in the Mekong River in Champassak Province in the south of Laos is part of the area known as Siphandone, meaning Four Thousand Islands, and has long been popular with visitors for its laid-back bucolic feel.
Siphandone is an archipelago of islands in the Mekong River, near the Laos-Cambodia border. It lies about 140 kilometers from Pakxe city, the capital of Champassak Province.
It is an expansive area of the mighty Mekong River, which is very broad at this point and forms many channels, creating numerous islets and rapids. It is also an area with an abundance of aquatic animals, especially fish.
A visit to Siphandone at present is an exciting experience because things there are changing fast. A short while ago it was a quiet, sleepy, rural area where life moved at an unhurried pace, in tune with the languidly flowing river.
Now it is undergoing rapid modernization under a massive development project being carried out by Sithandone Joint Development Co., Ltd. (STD). The development is known as the Sithandone Special Economic Zone or new Siphandone area.
It has also been referred to as the Khone Phapheng Special Economic Zone, so named for the Khone Phapheng Falls (the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia). The area around the falls will be turned into a sophisticated tourist site.
Development began in the middle of 2018, but over the past three years or more the area has already undergone a transformation. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and life in some parts of Laos came to a standstill in 2021, it didn’t slow work on this development, which continued unabated. Already a large hotel has been built on the border between Champassak Province and Stung Treng Province in Cambodia, close to the Khone Phapheng Waterfall. The hotel faces the Don Sahong hydropower plant and has a great view of the Mekong River. Completion is scheduled for April 2022. In October 2019, STD began building a 43.5 kilometers concrete road around Khong island, which was completed and handed over to the government in March 2021. In February 2021, construction of a barrier wall to prevent riverbank erosion and an adjacent road began. To date, the base of the barrier wall and the construction of walls and soil infilling has taken place over 1.2kilometers, while 200 meters of the foundations of the base have been dug. A plant to supply water was completed at the end of 2021, to provide water for hotels and people living nearby. Determined to surmount the problems caused to the tourism industry by the Covid-19 pandemic, STD adapted to the situation and promptly turned the focus to industry and investment. The company planned a digital economy zone in the Nongnokkhien area in the south of the Special Economic Zone, with a focus on IT, blockchain, e-commerce, a data center and other businesses, which attracted the interest of Chinese and Japanese investors.
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