Keen investor interest in privatisation of Yangon water system

Picture Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times

03 Sep 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - Investors are showing keen interest in managing and distributing water in Yangon, with a total of 32 local and foreign companies having submitted expressions of interest (EOI) for the job since August 28, when the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) first announced its privatisation plans.

The private sector has until October 28 to submit EOIs, after a tender process will be held.

Yangon mayor U Maung Maung Soe said the YCDC has been facing difficulties preventing water wastage and lacks the manpower required to prevent illegal tapping of water from the city's pipelines, which is then repackaged and sold for higher prices in various municipalities, resulting in losses for the city.

As such, the city has opted to allow private companies to manage the supply and distribution of water in Yangon. U Maung Maung Soe added that a ceiling price will be fixed to prevent water from becoming overly expensive.

''Our aim is not to up the water price, but to reduce wastage and build a more efficient water distribution system with help from the private sector," he told The Myanmar Times.

The YCDC currently collects K88 per unit of water for residential use and K110 per unit for commercial use. One unit equals 220 gallons. At those levels, water prices charged do not cover production costs, with the government subsidising the balance for the benefit of the public, U Maung Maung Soe said.

To date, the YCDC has yet to increase water charges in the city, even though around half the water supplied is wasted, the council said.

Yangon city's water distribution system covers only 45 percent of its population and as some townships in Yangon Region do not get enough municipal water.

Poorer townships such as Hlaing Tharyar, Shwe Pyi Thar, Seikgyi Kanaungto and Dala get very little municipal water and face water shortages every summer. "Currently, we get municipal water once in every two or three days, but it is suitable only for washing clothes and not drinkable. So, we have to buy purified drinking water. In the summer, we run out of purified water. It would be good to have constant supply of treated water from the tap," said Ko Saegal from Yuzana Garden Housing.

YCDC is currently undertaking water projects in Lagyun Pyin and Kokowa with the aim of distributing water to up to 90pc of the city in 2025. – Translated

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