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Posts Tagged ‘Northwest’

Storm that smacked Northwest moves to Utah, Idaho

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:51 am

A ferocious storm that crippled much of the Pacific Northwest barreled into the Rockies on Tuesday, causing whiteout conditions on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Utah, where Interstate 84 and Interstate 15 were temporarily shut down in northern Utah because of windy, snowy conditions that led two tractor-trailers to jackknife and block traffic. Even once the roads were reopened, visibility was still very limited there and elsewhere in the state as many commuters made their way home on snow-covered roads.

Numerous schools, governments and businesses in Utah closed hours earlier than normal Tuesday because of the storm, with state traffic officials warning the evening commute could take four times longer than usual.

U.S. Army Spc. Ron Washington walks from his Humvee and past stuck cars on the Alaskan Way Viaduct to check on the gridlock on the highway Monday, Nov. 22, 2010,

Of nearly 300 flights scheduled to take off from Salt Lake City International Airport Tuesday evening, nine had been canceled, although it wasn’t immediately clear if all of those were caused by the storm.

Highway officials told holiday travelers earlier in the day to get out of town now or risk being stranded on Thanksgiving.

In the western part of Utah, empty eastbound semitrailers on Interstate 80 were being held near the Nevada line to prevent them from tipping over in the windy salt flats.

At least three deaths in Washington state have been blamed on the storm, including a man struck and killed outside his car Monday night on snowy Interstate 5 in Tacoma. Officials in Portland, Ore., also were investigating whether a man whose body was found along the Willamette River died from the cold.

Thanksgiving travel was dicey throughout the region, with many highways too dangerous to drive. In Seattle, icy roads kept airline crews from getting to the airport, and people who missed their flights because of the dangerous drive were trying to rebook on already crowded planes.

The weather service said 2.5 inches of snow fell at the airport Monday, breaking the old record for the date of 1.5 inches in 1977.

The tiny central Washington town of Waterville became a refuge when the blizzard blasted across the scattered wheat fields and sagebrush along U.S. Highway 2.

“We got sideways snow. We’ve got snow that’s going up, stuck up under things. Snow is everywhere, because it’s been so windy,” Dave Lundgren, owner of the Waterville Historic Hotel, said Tuesday. “We’re definitely going to be looking for inside things to do.”

Even cold-hardened Alaskans were complaining about the weather, with freezing rain making travel hazardous if not impossible. Fairbanks was among the hardest-hit; schools closed and most government agencies and military bases told nonessential workers to stay home.

“I don’t think the roads can get much worse,” said David Gibbs, emergency operations director for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Andy Haner, a weather service meteorologist in Seattle, said the storm blew down from Alaska before turning toward the Northern Rockies.

“Sometimes we call them ‘inside sliders’ because they slide down the Inside Passage from Alaska,” he said.

Citrus growers in California’s San Joaquin Valley prepared to fight off crop-damaging frost as a cold front moves into the region.

The storm reached the Salt Lake City area during the evening commute.

That’s what happened Monday night in Washington. Slick roads, blowing snow and temperatures in the mid-20s turned rush hour in Seattle and nearby cities into an hours-long crawl. Some motorists gave up after being stuck for five hours or more and returned to their offices or just left their cars at the side of the road.

Winds gusting to 65 mph made matters worse by cutting off power for tens of thousands of utility customers in Western Washington. Puget Sound Energy said it was doing all it can to restore electricity to tens of thousands of customers who lost power in the Monday night storm, but some could still be in the cold and dark on Thanksgiving.

Spokane and Eastern Washington were hit with even stronger winds and colder temperatures, staying well below zero overnight.

Tuesday dawned bright, sunny and cold over much of the state as crews hurried to plow and deice roads. Most schools closed, including the University of Washington’s three campuses.

Annie Wicken, an employee at a Seattle supermarket, said her boss practically begged her to make the hours-long, multi-bus journey to work.

“I hope people will still try to shop and get their Thanksgiving stuff,” she said while waiting at a bus stop.

Emergency shelters opened throughout the region to warm the homeless. In Olympia, the Volunteer Center of Lewis, Mason, and Thurston Counties scrambled to find people with four-wheel-drive vehicles to deliver more than 400 Thanksgiving meals to homebound seniors.

“We feel like these people get shortchanged enough in life. We’re bringing them a meal no matter what happens,” said the center’s Emma Margraf.

Two people were killed Monday when their car slid on a snowy road at Cowiche near Yakima and collided with another car, the Washington State Patrol said. Another man died when he was struck outside his car Monday night on snowy Interstate 5 in Tacoma.

The patrol Tuesday launched a plane equipped with a heat-seeking camera to look for stranded motorists from Seattle south to Olympia. It said that in the 24 hours ending at 10 a.m., troopers had responded to 1,557 collisions and 1,274 disabled motorists statewide.

Much of Northwest will get a cold but brief break to dig out and maybe brave travel for the Thanksgiving holiday before more snow that could arrive by Wednesday night.

Source: SGGP

Northwest region steps up investment

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Rubber-growing project in the northwest needs a boost

In Uncategorized on August 18, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Rubber-growing project in the northwest needs a boost

QĐND – Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 21:13 (GMT+7)

Rubber plantation which started in the northwestern provinces in 2007 has helped to change the region’s economic structure.

Over the past three years, rubber plantations in Dien Bien, Son La, and Lai Chau have continued to thrive, creating more jobs for local people.

As the project is still in its early stage, the local authorities and the Vietnam Rubber Association (VRA) need to have a long-term cooperation.

New model to reduce poverty

To promote the rubber development plan in the northwestern region, central and local governments and the VRA have introduced a variety of policies to encourage farmers to use their land to plant rubber trees. In return, farmers are being employed by rubber companies and receive a stock dividend corresponding to their area of land and levels of production.

In addition, each province also has their own policies to help farmers and rubber companies.

The total rubber plantation areas in the northwestern region have been expanded to 15,000 ha and most of the rubber trees are growing very well, according to VRA member businesses.

There has been a very close cooperation between local party executives with the authorities, between central and local governments, and between localities and businesses.

The new working model for businesses and farmers proves to be both creative and effective with clear regulations about each party’s duties and responsibilities.

The plan has also created more jobs, helping farmers increase their incomes. In provinces like Lai Chau, Dien Bien, and Son La, along with relocation and resettlement for the Son La Hydroelectric Power project and other programmes, the rubber-developing plan has helped to reduce poverty and provide stable employment.

More support is needed

However, there still remain some shortcomings in the implementation of the project. The sudden change in the form of investment has put many Lai Chau businesses in difficult position to go through complicated administrative procedures and solve other problems arising from land acquisition and compensation too slowly. Furthermore, the incomes of rubber workers in Dien Bien and Son La provinces are very low so they do not want to get involved in the project.

In Son La, the unemployment rate is rising, resulting in a poorer standard of living. Lo Van Khat, a resident of Bo Muoi commune, says that his family has ten members but only one of them has a job. Farmers can hardly earn enough from growing rubber trees for their living as it normally takes seven years before they reap a profit, he added.

For this reason, many farmers in Dien Bien cut down their rubber trees. Lau A So, from Thanh Nua commune, Dien Bien district, said: “Local farmers support rubber growing, but we need more financial support and commitment from the State.”

On June 3, 2009, the Government issued Decision No.750 on drawing up a rubber development plan until 2015 with a vision to 2020. Under the plan, the area under rubber trees will be expanded to about 50,000 hectares in the north-western region by 2020. The key task for the region is to plant rubber trees while ensuring food security and reducing the poverty rate in a sustainable manner.

A conference was held in Dien Bien province on August 18 to review the results of the ongoing rubber growing project in the north-western region.

The conference, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, was attended by representatives from several ministries, central agencies and local authorities in the region.

The participants in the event evaluated rubber growing projects in Son La, Lao Chau, Dien Bien, Yen Bai, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Giang and Phu Tho provinces. They pointed out the shortcomings in many of these projects over the past three years and discussed more effective measures to boost the shift of economic restructuring and sustainable poverty reduction in the north-western region.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Ethnic minorities in Northwest struggle for potable water

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 at 6:33 am

Residents of northwestern mountainous provinces, especially Lao Cai Province that is home to many ethnic minority communities, are struggling to get water for daily use and irrigation purposes.

After washing vegetables, an ethnic minority woman pours the water into a bucket to take it back home for washing clothes (Photo: SGGP)

The region has been suffering a severe drought for several months now.

The worst hit areas in Lao Cai Province include Ta Gia Khau Commune in Muong Khuong District, Thao Chu Phin and Sin Cheng in Si Ma Cai District, Lau Thi Ngai in Bac Ha District and Minh Luong in Van Ban District.

Along the way to the Ta Gia Khau mountain village, dozens of residents can be seen carrying cans and buckets to collect water from tanks built under the ground to catch water flowing from mountain gorges.

At a tank close to road, Sung A Tranh and his wife were using ladles to collect water. A Tranh even jumped into the tank, but all he could see was soil and dregs.

His wife, Sung Thi Lenh, said that that they were still fortunate to be able to get a little of water while many others were having to travel four to six kilometers or even to other communes to fetch some.

There are many water tanks in the village, but they mostly contain garbage. Local residents have also put many jars out to catch rain water, but there has been no rain for many months now.

Another resident, Vang A Thao, showed a ten liter can of water, saying his wife had to wait a whole afternoon to collect it from a mountain gorge far away.

At several points, between 40 to 50 people can been seen waiting in a long line with cans and buckets to collect water from very thin flows, with each can or bucket taking an hour to fill.

Luu Minh Hai, deputy director of the Lao Cai Province Hydro Meteorological Forecast Center, said that the drought would continue until the end of March, 2010.

Outcome of deforestation

According to many experts, the main reason for the interminable water shortage in Lao Cai as well as in the northwestern region has been deforestation.

For many years now, residents have tried their best to plant trees, but have made slow progress, and the local forest coverage has dwindled alarmingly.

Lao Cai Province has built about 47,000 tanks and reservoirs to store up and provide water (not including irrigation works). In theory, these can ensure water supply for 70 percent of households in the province. However, thousands of these places have been left fallow because in projects near forests in the riverhead, there is no water to be found.

Dry weather conditions in the northwestern region usually last from November to April, and sometimes till July, the middle of the rainy season.

Over the last few years, the Lao Cai Province People’s Committee has evacuated hundreds of H’mong ethnic minority households from two communes of Ta Gia Khau and Din Chin of Muong Khuong District to lower-lying communes like A Mu Sung and Trinh Tuong in Bat Xat District, Ban Phiet in Bao Thang District and Son Thuy in Van Ban District, so they can settle down in areas near water sources.

However, the drought has spread to low-lying areas of the province as well.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

The real dirt on the northwest

In Vietnam Tour on October 18, 2009 at 3:03 am

The real dirt on the northwest

QĐND – Saturday, October 17, 2009, 19:24 (GMT+7)

Bike tours to the rugged region offer a more direct experience of the life of its people.

It is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but discovering Vietnam’s rugged and scenic northwest on a motorbike is more than an exhilarating experience.

Those who have undertaken it say it enables them to see “life as it truly is for the Vietnamese people.”

Dramatic landscapes and sweeping panoramas become more direct and intense when the visitor is not enclosed within a vehicle. Watching the rural population doing about its business also becomes a more intimate affair.

“We started the itinerary to four mountainous provinces – Hoa Binh, Son La, Dien Bien, Lao Cai – in the northwest region with a 130 km ride to Mai Chau,” said Andre Prince, who took the 7-day journey with six friends from Canada.

Together with a tour guide, they left Hanoi at 8:30 a.m. and rode the dirt-bikes (175cc and 250cc Yamahas and Hondas) west to Mai Chau, home to the Thai ethnic minority.

They traveled on road No. 6 passing expansive rice paddies and scenic villages and stopped for refreshment before tackling 70km of undulating roads with great views of mountains and valleys before reaching Mai Chau at noon.

“We were really impressed by the traditional stilt-houses, the dances and meals at Pom Coong, a village of the White Thai ethnic minority,” said Andre.

The group left for Son La Province the next morning.

Kien, the tour guide, said the motorbike trip of about 1,000 km is wonderful for those who have good health and like more adventure in their travels. The tour is also great for finding several vantage spots for photography, he added.

Besides the tea plantations in Moc Chau Plateau – the destination of the best green tea in Vietnam that grows along the roads on the hillsides in Son La, the valley of Dien Bien Phu also offers magnificent views.

Here “the ride is more adventurous with more winding roads and longer passes, while offering more colorful minority groups and more stunning scenery,” said Andre, adding that the highlight of Dien Bien Province could be the impressive Pha Din

Pass, which means Heaven-Earth. According to local legend, it was the frontier between Heaven and Earth. Pha Din is some 1,000m above sea-level.

“Climbing and descending the slopes with their many bends and deep gorges is a really unforgettable experience,” Andre said.

The fourth day was scheduled for Lao Cai, where stops at H’mong and Dao villages refreshed the crew after a 225 km ride along stunning gorges and the Nam Na River.

Fittingly, Sa Pa was the pinnacle of the trip, where the group stayed for two days and visited several ethnic minority villages deep in the forest.

“Sa Pa is a paradise for trekking lovers. It has so many routes with views of beautiful terraced fields, diverse minority groups and the highest peak in Indochina, the Fansipan.”

The group also got off their bikes to take a jeep ride downhill to the Muong Hoa Valley, where they trekked on dirt paths through pine forest, terraced fields and H’mong villages. En route they stopped to visit minority schools and had a picnic lunch by the river.

Source: TN

Source: QDND Bookmark & Share

Pakistan: Troops kill 27 militants in northwest

In World on October 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

 Pakistan‘s paramilitary forces say they have killed 27 militants, including two important commanders, in an ongoing operation in the northwestern Khyber tribal region.

Pakistani tribal families of South Waziristan area fleeing their hometown, arrive in Miran Shah, capital of Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan.

A statement from the Frontier Corps said the troops also destroyed two militant hideouts in Friday’s operations. An explosives-laden vehicle and 18 other vehicles also were destroyed.

It was not possible to independently confirm the statements. Access to Khyber is restricted.

Under pressure from the U.S., Pakistan launched the operation weeks ago after insurgents stepped up attacks on trucks carrying supplies to American and NATO forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Source: SGGP

Northwest pushes for more investment

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Lao Cai (VNA) – A forum to promote investment in the northwest was considered a roaring success as agreements were reached regarding 19 projects in the region, with a total investment capital of more than 3 billion USD.

More than 500 representatives of economic groups, investment funds and local and foreign businesses participated in the forum, which took place in Sa Pa city in Lao Cai province on Oct. 14.

Addressing the event, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong said the northwest is the heartland of planning and development in accordance with the “two corridors, one economic belt” scheme being implemented by Vietnam and China .

Accordingly, the Government and the northwestern authorities are eager to hear investors’ opinions regarding the on-going administrative reform so that favourable conditions and the best possible environment for investors can be created, Deputy PM Trong said.

According to the Northwest Steering Committee, the northwest posted a GDP growth rate of 12.38 percent in 2007 and made remarkable improvements in its production capacity, infrastructure, and socio-economic performance.

However, the committee pointed out that the region has been slow in adapting its economic structure, with its development strategy lacking a vision of long-term sustainability and its socio-economic infrastructure remaining weak.

“Despite its potentials and strengths, the northwest remains the poorest region in the country,” the Northwest Steering Committee commented.

The northwest requires at least 10 billion USD in investment capital to reach its set targets of an annual GDP growth rate of 11 percent and an average per capita income of 517.8 USD over the 2001-2010 period.

This sum seems out of reach for the region as it has attracted 689.8 million USD in investment to date, a modest figure given its rich potential in hydro-electricity generation, mining and ecotourism, plus its favourable geographical position on the stretch of border shared with Laos and China .

At the forum, Deputy PM Trong, who headed the Northwest Steering Committee, stressed that the northwest needs to formulate a plan focusing on the development of hydroelectricity, the mining industry, the production of construction materials, ecotourism, and forging and strengthening economic ties with neighbouring countries.

Currently, the northwest produces more than 300,000 tonnes of food in order to meet the demands of provinces in the region.

In 2007, the region saw the construction of 100 hydro-electric power plants with a total output capacity of 1,600 MW and the operation of the Cam Duong apatite sorting plant, the Sinh Quyen copper complex and the Lao Cai iron and steel plant.

Localities have invested in the expansion of more than 400 km of border beltways and thousands of kilometres of inter-commune and inter-district roads and in linking remote, mountainous communes with the national grid in order to create favourable preconditions to inviting more investors into the region.

The government has also applied special incentives to lure investors to the region, including preferential credit, land lease reduction and exemption, subsidies for materials transport, assistance in infrastructure construction in industrial zones and income tax cuts.-

Northwest region calls for $10b investment

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2008 at 6:24 pm

A corner of the Danish-invested US$1 million Ecolodge tourism complex in Lao Cai Province’s famous town of Sapa. The region is hoping to attract $10 billion in investment in two years to reach its 2010 development goals. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan

HA NOI — The northwestern region needs a total investment capital of at least US$10 billion by 2010, so as to achieve the target of social and economic development set by the government, according to local authorities.

Following the scheme, the region including Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Phu Tho, Dien Bien, Lai Chau and Ha Giang provinces aims to ensure an economic growth rate of 11 per cent each year.

Despite the advantages in land space, natural resources and hydro-electric power potential, the provinces have failed to attract foreign investors due to insufficient infrastructure and a shortage of skilled labour, said Lao Cai Department of Planning and Investment director Doan Van Huong.

During the period between 1998-2007, the region attracted only 92 foreign-invested projects worth $675 million. In the first nine months of this year, only Lao Cai and Yen Bai could attract foreign investment with Lao Cai Province attracted four projects valued at $73.4 million and Yen Bai Province gained $3.2 million with one project.

Slow land clearance, cumbersome administrative procedures and higher investment costs than that of other locations were identified as the main challenges facing the northwestern provinces in attracting foreign direct investment.

Among the six provinces in the region, Lao Cai has proved the most attractive to foreign investors. By September this year, foreign investors pumped $318.6 million into 33 projects. However, only $23 million or 7.2 per cent of the sum had been disbursed.

Yen Bai Department of Planning and Investment director Nguyen Ngoc Han said that the provinces should focus on fostering industrial development rather than depending on agriculture and animal breeding. The director also emphasised the importance of foreign investors who could bring the latest technology to the provinces’ process of economic development.

Phu Tho People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Doan Khanh spoke of the need to upgrade regional road systems and roads connecting the provinces with large economic hubs, so as to make life easier for investors.

Streamlining administrative procedures was also necessary to create a favourable investment climate, as well as to improve awareness of officials in charge of investment promotion, Khanh added.

Under a decision by the Prime Minister, the northwestern provinces will receive financial support from the Government to upgrade infrastructure facilities to encourage development and attract investment capital.

Last year, the average annual GDP growth in the region stood at 12.4 per cent. It hopes to increase this by 1.5 percentage points this year. —