An economic squeeze in Laos, and in particular in the capital, Vientiane, is causing severe shortages of food and other essential supplies that formerly came in from across the Thai border.
GV & SV Closed petrol stations (3 shots)
SV Driver steering car after running out of fuel
SV Children cleaning cars
GV Street without cars
GV & SV Market stalls showing reduced trade
GV & SV Few fish on sale (3 shots)
SV Rice on sale in market
Initials BB/1630 YA/JB/BB/1700
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: An economic squeeze in Laos, and in particular in the capital, Vientiane, is causing severe shortages of food and other essential supplies that formerly came in from across the Thai border.
The border, along the Mekong River, was closed by the Thai government last month following clashes between Thai and Laotian troops and the announcement of the new Communist government.
Laotian Foreign Minister, Phoun Sipraseut said Laos was ready to discuss the issue with Thailand of re-opening the border -- but not under pressure.
Filling station pumps are dry and roads are speckled with abandoned cars. Traffic has dwindled to the 1960 level. Cars are so few on the roads that the authorities have said it is quite in order to go through red lights as long as drivers are careful.
The price of petrol, when it is available, has risen tenfold.
As regards food, there is no butter, milk, cheese, sugar or salt. In four weeks, the price of many commodities has also increased tenfold. Chickens are fetching five times what they did one month ago.
It is not known how long thailand will keep the border closed, but if it is not opened within a few days, massive airlifts of supplies may be needed to feed the Laotian population.
SYNOPSIS: The pumps at most petrol stations in Vientiane are dry. This situation developed just over four weeks ago when the Thai government closed the common border with Laos following clashes between Thai and Laotian troops. The new Laotian Communist government would like to discuss the issue with Thailand but, as Foreign Minister Phoun Sipraseut has said, not under pressure. In the meantime, the shortages are getting worse with supplies of foods such as butter, milk, cheese, sugar and salt not available.
The open market which not so long ago was ever-flowing with fresh vegetables from Thailand is now nothing more than a place where a few private-garden owners offer some of their produce for sale. It is not yet known how long the border -- along the mekong River -- will be closed.. There are fears that if it is not opened with a few days, massive airlifts of supplies may be needed to feed the Laotian population during the current economic squeeze.