Laos' energy ministry to join investigation into dam failure
The Ministry of Energy and Mines is ready to join with all stakeholders in a government mission to investigate the cause of the damage to saddle dam D at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project, which resulted in serious flooding and destruction in Sanamxay district, Attapeu province.
"We have set up a committee to deal with this investigation. I think we are ready to perform our duty," the Ministry's Office Head, Dr Daovong Phonekeo, said on Thursday.
The committee would also invite countries whose companies were registered as shareholders in the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower plant to carry out an intensive investigation including in situ checks and other methodologies as decided by the team of experts to determine the true cause of the tragedy. The World Bank and other internationally recognised independent experts would also take part in the investigation.
The Prime Minister pledged to carry out an investigation into the real cause of the collapse, to determine whether heavy rainfall or the technical standards applied to the construction of the dam was to blame.
"The Ad Hoc Committee will assess the losses and find out the true causes," he said.
While the investigation is not concluded, the committee will work with the project developers and other disaster relief agencies to seek common ground on the distribution of responsibilities in handling the tragic disaster effectively.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines and the fact-finding teams agreed with the government's guidelines for the investigation, to ensure the findings were correct, objective and just for all parties concerned.
Regarding compensation, Dr Daovong said the government had a clear policy to provide the best compensation package to those who had been affected by the flood, adding that the government and dam developers would do their best to make sure the compensation awarded was fair to those who had suffered losses.
Minister of Energy and Mines Dr Khammany Inthirath said at a press conference on July 26 that a primary mission of the government, project developers and related agencies following emergency rescue and relief would be to concentrate on the recovery of the livelihoods of the disaster-affected people.
He said the rehabilitation mission would be divided into two phases. The first short-term phase would focus on the rescue of the flood victims and provide emergency relief, while the long-term phase would deal with the reconstruction of resettlement villages, which includes the provision of accommodation and access to land so that people can earn a living.
A dam builder company official told Vientiane Times the company had made a commitment to support the government to shoulder the required work to rehabilitate damaged public facilities in the impacted area as well as to work on the restoration of the well-being of the affected villagers.
Since the flood occurred, the company has been actively providing assistance to the victims in terms of rescue and disaster relief.
The company is building temporary shelters in Attapeu province to house the affected families.