14 May 18 - Since the start of the year, Yangon has announced ambitious plans for expansion and new infrastructure. ''The Yangon population will hit 10 million in the next two decades and it can be a mega city by 2040, said Daw Nilar Kyaw of Yangon regional minister for Electricity, Industry and Transportation.
But while the developments are expected to create jobs and help the city overcome problems such as traffic congestion and shortages of housing and urban infrastructure, concerns are mounting over the consequences of such rapid urbanisation.
Among the concerns are land rights issues and the resettlement of residents and squatters who are now living on the land targeted for development.
Based on a report submitted to Parliament this month, a total of six housing development projects, two industrial buildings as well as a transportation project and dry port project are slated to take place across Yangon between 2018 and 2021.
"We want to know what the government has planned for these people such as where they will live while work is being done within 2018 to 2021. Also, we are concerned about what will happen to the existing properties, and what land rights property owners have," said U Kyaw Zaya, MP from Dagon township.
For example, construction of the new San Gyi Wa Transportation Hub has been earmarked for better transportation and logistics networks and it will also function as the main bus depot for the YBS. By doing so the government hopes to reduce transportation costs and traffic congestion.
However, complications could arise between the government, land owners and farmers currently utilising that plot of land. "The government must make sure discussions over land ownership are conducted transparently. If the farmers disagree to the terms and conditions, the government should avoid implementing the project until the issues are solved," said Daw Thandar Moe, MP from Mingalardon township.
The government will also be building a smart city in the northern district as well as an industrial zone in East Dagon Myothit together with the private sector. Other commercial projects include the Mayangone Villa commercial and mixed development project and the Parami commercial and mixed development project, which are both in Mayangone township and major upgrading works in Twante township.
U Thein Myint, MP from Tamwe township, raised concerns about older infrastructure in Yangon. "Will the government neglect the existing infrastructure and ongoing projects in Yangon while it focuses on developing new areas? Also, are the new projects welcome by the public? We need a government that carries out expansion according to the public's desire," he said.
"We welcome the new housing projects but there is no detailed report of the plans for older and existing projects," he said.
Other MPs said the government should in fact focus on ensuring that sufficient electricity and water distribution systems as well as better transportation networks are available to the city's neediest before expanding.
''The government has yet to fulfill the basic infrastructure requirements at existing public housing developments that are 10 to 20 years old. In implementing housing projects, they need to first focus on the needs of the poor before developing new infrastructure targeted for the elite," said U Kyaw Min Han, MP from Latha township.
Source: The Myanmar Times