《中国日报》:Belt, Road project improves lives in Laos 一带一路改善老挝人民生活

作者:By YANG HAN | China 时间:2019-04-09 字体:[ ]

The level-2 station of the Nam Ou project has been in operation since 2016. The project, with an installed capacity of 1,272 megawatts, is invested in and constructed by Power Construction Corp of China at a cost of $2.73 billion. Provided to CHINA DAILY

Hydropower complex brings jobs, better pay

For Luchan, a Laotian hydro-power plant worker, 2019 is turning out to be a promising year, both personally and professionally.

The first unit of the second phase of the Nam Ou Cascade Hydropower Project, which Luchan joined five years ago as a bulldozer driver, is nearing completion and is expected to begin generating power in the coming months.

At the same time, Luchan, who only has one name, said he will soon have enough savings to buy a pickup truck for his parents to start a small business.

The Nam Ou project, with an installed capacity of 1,272 megawatts, is invested in and constructed by Power Construction Corp of China, or PowerChina, at a cost of $2.73 billion.

As a key part of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative, it is the first project undertaken by a Chinese-invested company to cover an entire river.

The Nam Ou River, a major tributary of the Mekong in Laos, originates in Yunnan province in China, and flows for 475 kilometers in northern Laos through the provinces of Phongsaly and Luang Prabang.

The project, which began in 2011, has created reservoirs with seven levels. The first phase, comprising plants on levels 2, 5 and 6, has generated 4 billion kWh since it started operating on Jan 1, 2017, until March.

The second phase, comprising plants on levels 1, 3, 4 and 7, is expected to be fully completed by the end of next year. The project will provide 12 percent of Laos' electricity supply, according to PowerChina.

Luchan, 25, is one of many Laotian workers at the site who has received an official certificate from PowerChina as a special equipment operator. Like many of his fellow workers, this is the first skills certificate he has received.

"Each month, I will go back home and use my salary to support the family," said Luchan, who earns about 4.5 million Laotian kip ($525) a month. "We don't need to worry about money when we want to buy something."

The minimum monthly wage in Laos was raised to 1.1 million kip on May 1, according to Xinhua News Agency. In Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the average monthly salary is about $200 after tax, according to the research website Numbeo.com.
据新华社报道,老挝最低月薪在5月1日上涨到110万基辅。据 Numbeo.com网调查,在琅勃拉邦一家联合国教科文组织下面的世界非物质文化遗产机构工作,税后月收入也才200美元。

Va Ya Yongtoua (left), an operational attendant at the level-2 plant, checks the monitoring system with his Chinese colleagues. Provided to CHINA DAILY.
Va Ya Yongtoua (左)和中国同事一起分析运行维护数据

Earlier this year, Luchan's two older brothers joined the project as bulldozer drivers on the night shift. The three siblings are among some 300 to 400 Laotian workers at the construction site, accounting for more than 50 percent of the employees at the level-1 plant.

Zhang Hua'nan, assistant to the general manager of Nam Ou Power Co and project manager of the level-1 plant, said: "Laotian people are very friendly and key to the construction of the hydropower station. They have played irreplaceable roles in the project.

"Many people like to work with us to earn a better income."

Zhang said the monthly salary is normally about 3 million kip for workers, while employees in the back office earn 2.5 million kip. For jobs requiring higher skills, such as a bulldozer driver, salaries range from 4 million to 5 million kip.

It is important to attract Laotian employees through economic support and other benefits such as a vacation system, Zhang said. "Only when local people's lives have been improved can they appreciate being involved in a project that benefits them," he added.

Chanthala Phanthasith, an international trade graduate from Leshan Normal University in Sichuan province, noted the appeal of PowerChina's worker benefits. She joined the Nam Ou project in October as a senior manager, training and supervising all 22 Laotian service staff members on site.
老挝女孩Chanthala Phanthasith毕业于四川乐山师院,主修国际贸易专业,被中国电建的福利待遇吸引,十月来到南欧江项目担任高级主管,负责培训和督导工点上22名老挝籍员工。

This month, she will celebrate her first songkran, the Laotian New Year, since starting with the company. "I feel great that as a Laotian employee I can have the whole three-day holiday (from April 14 to 16)," she said, adding that the company also organizes activities for other holidays.

Soudaphone Bounsoulivanh, one of four dispatchers from Laos at the level-2 plant, joined in August. Having majored in Chinese language and literature, the Yunnan Normal University graduate initially wanted to be a translator, but was assigned to monitor the hydrologic regime. Her job is critical because the real-time data of precipitation and water flow across the river is not only crucial for hydropower management, but also for the Laotian government to draw up economic plans.
Soudaphone Bounsoulivanh是2级电站的调度员,8月份进入中国电建工作,毕业于云南师范大学汉语言文学专业,最初想当一名翻译,但是被分配到水情观测工作。她的工作包括监测实时降雨和水流数据,这些数据不仅对于水电站管理至关重要,也是老挝政府制定经济计划的重要参考。

"Even though I didn't know anything about the job, the company was still willing to make me the offer and provide training," she said. "My (Chinese) colleagues are all very nice. They always help me whenever I have questions.

"Working here allows me to improve my professional skills so I can make contributions to my country."

Va Ya Yong Toua, 24, from Xieng Khouang province in northeastern Laos, joined the Nam Ou project in March last year. The former waiter heard about an operational attendant's job through his Chinese teacher in Luang Prabang. He now earns twice as much as before.
Va Ya Yong Toua今年24岁,来自老挝东南部Xieng Khouang省,他从在琅勃拉邦的中文老师那里得知有一份运行维护人员的工作后,于去年3月加入中国电建。现在收入是当他服务员时的两倍。

"When I joined the company, I found a Chinese colleague to teach me things at work," he said. "Now, we have three more Laotian colleagues who started after me and it is my turn to teach them."

Laotian staff members work on the level-1 plant construction site. Local employees account for 51 percent of recruits in the first phase and 77 percent in the second. Provided to CHINA DAILY

According to PowerChina, the Nam Ou project has provided more than 8,000 job opportunities for local people. In addition to recruiting for frontline construction and operations, the company has promoted locals to managerial roles, including contract management and employee training.

Localization is an important element of the project, said Huang Yande, general manager of Nam Ou Power Co. Huang is also the assistant general manager of PowerChina Resources.
南欧江发电公司总经理说、PowerChina Resources的总经理助理说,属地化是南欧江项目的一大特色。

Local employees account for 51 percent of recruits in the first phase and 77 percent in the second. But Huang said there are comparatively fewer local operational staff members at the power station, because of a lack of qualified talent. He hopes to increase the proportion to 40 percent within the next three years, and eventually to over 70 or even 90 percent.

The Nam Ou project has been developed with a build-operate-transfer model, under which the operation will be handed over to the Laotian government and people after Power-China manages it for 29 years.

"The ultimate goal for the project is not about bringing people from China here, but to really benefit the country where the project is located," Huang said.

In mid-April, the first batch of 52 new Laotian employees will return from a four-month training program in Sichuan.

"When Chinese companies expand their business overseas, exporting China's standards, equipment and technology, it is also important to use our capital to promote the rapid development of the country," Huang said.

"Laos aims to become the 'battery of Southeast Asia', but it also needs others' help to build the battery so its power can flow to other countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, even Singapore and Malaysia."

The Nam Ou project recently launched a website in Laotian, Chinese and English, allowing users to submit comments, questions or even complaints.

"We are very open-minded (about public opinion)," Huang said. "As a Chinese company, we hope to use our ability to help other countries and break the development bottleneck. Only in this way can the project be sustainable."

Although construction work is coming to an end, bulldozer driver Luchan hopes to continue working with PowerChina on other projects in Laos.

Senior manager Phanthasith aims to return to China for postgraduate studies, while dispatcher Bounsoulivanh would like her youngest brother, who is learning Chinese, to join the company.

"After nearly 30 years, the project will be handed over to the Laotian government, so I think it is a good chance for him (to find a stable job)," she said.

Operations attendant Yong Toua brought his wife to the plant, and she now works there as a chef. The couple lives together in a dormitory for employees. "Just like many Chinese people, we want to save money and buy our own house and car as soon as possible," he said.
“运维员工Yong Toua把妻子接到了项目当厨师。”这对夫妇住在员工宿舍。“跟中国人一样,我们也想多存点钱,尽快买房买车。”

The benefits of such a massive project go beyond the undertaking itself.

Yong Toua praised the Nam Ou project for improving local people's lives. "Before the project started, there were some places in Laos that suffered from electricity shortages," he said. "The company has also built bridges and roads, making it easier for people to travel in the region."
Yong Toua点赞南欧江项目改善了当地人的生活水平。“工程建设前,老挝很多地方都饱受电力短缺的困扰,”他说。“中国电建还修了很多路和桥,方便当地人出行。”


Produced By 大汉网络 大汉版通发布系统