Myanmar Parliament Approves $180-Million ADB Loan Request for Yangon Water Supply

Capture The Ngamoeyeik Reservoir in Yangon’s Hlegu Township. / Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department

27 July 2020 - Source: The Irrawaddy - NAYPYITAW—The Union Parliament on Friday approved a plan to seek US$180 million (243.7 billion kyats) in funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the Yangon City Water Resilience Project, which aims to strengthen the security of Yangon City's water supply.

The five-year project will be implemented in Hlegu Township from December this year through December 2025. It will include construction of an intake structure at Ngamoeyeik Reservoir, a pumping station and a pipeline, among other features.

The concessional loan will be offered at an interest rate of 1 percent for an eight-year grace period, and at 1.5 percent over the 24-year repayment period. Of the total amount, 48 percent is a "grant element."

"We only need to pay the interest annually based on the remaining amount of the loan, but not on the entire principal," Deputy Minister for Planning and Finance U Maung Maung Win said in the Union Parliament.

At present, 66 percent of Yangon's water supply comes from Ngamoeyeik Reservoir, from which water is piped through earthen channels to a water-treatment plant. This system results in water wastage as well as poor water quality, as waste and chemical fertilizers from nearby land contaminate the channels, he said.

The replacement of earthen channels with pipelines will ensure a supply of 180 million gallons (about 681 million liters) of water per day, with less water wastage and improved water quality, he said.

According to the deputy minister, $133.66 million will be spent on urban construction, $10.87 million will be spent on equipment, $9.25 million will be used to hire a consultancy firm for the project, and US$26.22 million will go toward covering unexpected costs.

Lower House lawmaker U Thein Tan said there are squatters on the site of Ngamoeyeik Reservoir, despite the fact that a curfew is imposed there. He called on the government to arrange for resettlement of the squatters, adding that local residents do not have access to water from Nagmoeyeik Reservoir.

"Most of the wards in Hlegu have to use yellowish water contaminated with iron. So, I am asking, if possible, that they be supplied with water from Ngamoeyeik Reservoir," U Thein Tan said.

Upper House lawmaker Daw Shwe Shwe Sein Latt from Bago Region called for coordination and collaboration among relevant departments and proper monitoring to ensure the project is beneficial to Yangon residents.

"Myanmar will not receive many low-interest rate loans in the future, as it will graduate from LDC [least-developed country] status. This loan should be taken. But, there must be monitoring of the implementation. The monitoring system is very weak for projects implemented with loans," she said.

Currently, Ngamoeyeik Reservoir supplies 90 million gallons of water daily to 15 townships including Hlaing Tharyar, Thaketa, Dawbon and Insein.

The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) supplies around 200 million gallons of water daily to 33 townships within municipal areas. The water is sourced from the Gyobyu, Hlawga, Phuugyi and Ngamoeyeik reservoirs, as well as ground water.

The YCDC obtained a $220-million loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency in 2014 for the Greater Yangon Water Supply Improvement Project, and another $232-million loan in 2017 for the second phase of the project.

Water metering was introduced in 1995 at 6.6 kyats per unit for household use and 29.7 kyats for commercial use. In 2005, a single rate was introduced of 55 kyats per unit for both household and commercial use. The current rates are 88 kyats per unit for household use and 110 kyats for commercial use, introduced in 2012.

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