Road 13 North in dire condition in Oudomxay An 82km stretch of the country's main north-south highway, Road No. 13 north, has become severely degraded, hindering the transport of people and goods in the region. The degraded section runs between the Pakmong junction in Nambak district, Luang Prabang province, and the provincial capital of Oudomxay. People who have travelled on this road say the risk of an accident is high, especially during overtaking. In addition, the road surface is very uneven and the foundations are weak. With the surface asphalt layer largely gone, this hilly road becomes a sea of mud in the wet season and a cloud of dust in the dry season, sparking plenty of complaints from road users. But that is set to change. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport will begin repairing the road in the upcoming dry season, using a US$82 million loan provided by the government of China, according to the Lao News Agency which quoted transport officials responsible for the road. It is estimated the upgrade will take three years. A survey has already been made and the plans drawn up and reviewed by the relevant sectors. With Oudomxay province due to host the National Games in 2014, there is concern that, in its present condition, the road could affect participants travelling from Vientiane and other areas of the country. However, transport officials are committed to repairing the road and promise that travel conditions will improve, although the work will not be finished by the time the games come around. The Pakmong junction lies about 82km south of the provincial capital of Oudomxay. It used to take 2-3 hours to travel this distance but given the current road conditions the journey now takes 5-6 hours. Buses and heavily laden trucks may take even longer as drivers have to negotiate potholes, mud and dust. National Road No. 13 is an artery for the people of Laos because it is the main link between the northern and southern regions and also connects Laos to its neighbours. For years, local people and business operators have used this route to transport goods to local and regional markets. The degradation of this road is not only damaging to the transport sector but directly affects the livelihoods of local communities. The road is used by trucks carrying goods between Vientiane and the northern region, so it is essential that repairs are made as soon as possible. Source: Vientiane Times. 16 September 2013.