The cabinet has instructed Vientiane authorities to speed up zoning for the development of different areas of the capital so that management of the country’s urban heart can be better regulated.
Speaking at a press conference after the government’s monthly meeting at the end of February, government spokesperson Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher said the cabinet had urged the capital’s authorities to place a greater focus on zoning.
The city should consist of separate zones for agriculture, preservation, offices, industry, and special economic zones, he said.
Vientiane authorities submitted a newly drafted urban development plan to the cabinet to consider and approve at its monthly meeting, which took place on February 19-20.
Vientiane is facing a number of challenges in managing the fast pace of development due to the lack of concrete guidelines. In the absence of regulations, people build houses, offices, apartments, markets and factories anywhere in the city without reference to zoning plans.
The growing, unplanned expansion of Vientiane is creating difficulties for city authorities in maintaining order in the development process, reducing traffic congestion, and protecting the environment.
An official from a special economic zone told Vientiane Times recently that he supported efforts by Vientiane authorities to create zoning for the appropriate development of different parts of the city, saying this would cut the cost of environmental protection.
He said factories should be located in the same area and share the cost of waste disposal systems. He also said the authorities should not allow factories to be built in residential areas because people would suffer from pollution.
Other observers say the authorities should regulate the construction of high-rises in the city centre to preserve what little is left of old buildings, pointing out that tourists like to visit old parts of the city, which are rapidly being demolished.
According to Dr Chaleun, the cabinet provided urban planners with a number of comments for reference in improving the draft of the urban development plan before resubmitting it to state leaders for approval.
One of the key principles the cabinet wanted Vientiane authorities to observe was to limit the expansion of urban areas. This would enable the government to retain its resources for investment in urban infrastructure in the provinces, he said.
The government has been trying to narrow the development gap between Vientiane and the provinces.
Dr Chaleun said the cabinet also wanted Vientiane authorities to set up short-term urban, and medium- and long-term city development plans. A long-term city development plan up until 2050 should be drawn up, he said.
He also said the cabinet wanted city authorities to base development on principles relating to cleanliness, green spaces, visual appeal and security.