Dec 6, 2011

Yangon to be built into a city like Singapore

President U Thein Sein has urged his government to built Yangon, the former capital of about seven million residents, into a modern city like Singapore, Union Minister for Industry-1 and Industry-2 U Soe Thein told the media on 28 November.

At the press conference at the meeting hall of the Ministry of Industry-2 in Nay Pyi Taw, the minister said that overpasses would be built at congested junctions such as Hletan, Shwegondine, Bayintnaung and Tamway Traffic Circle in Yangon.

Overpasses to be built within four months

It was also learnt that these bridges would be built within four months with the loans from private banks and the investment of companies that will build the overpasses without spending the government budget.

“The president told us to turn Yangon into a modern city like Singapore in our own way. Now, we are planning to build a traffic bridge at Hledan within four months. Similarly, we will build traffic bridges at Shwegondine, Tarmway and Bayintnaung. If we cannot complete these bridges within four months, we will have to apologize to the public. The president told us to build the bridges as soon as possible since traffic congestions were getting worse. When I went to Yangon, I had to wait a long time as I was stuck at traffic lights three or four times. As I had my phone with me, I could work with it. However, it would be a problem for a worker on his way home to cook meals. It would be very inconvenient if such a worker was stuck at traffic lights for a long time. As there are always traffic jams at Bayintnaung Bridge, we will build another bridge near the existing one. This bridge cannot be completed within four months. It might take one year. We will build another railway network and road networks. When Myanmar regained independence, Singaporeans had to study Yangon to build a city like it. Now we will have to study Singapore. It does not matter. We will do everything that will benefit us. Now Yangon has a population of between six and seven million. We are trying hard to ease the difficulties of commuters from suburban areas. There should be a lot of overpasses. Currently, we will build four traffic bridges within four months. Users of these bridges will have to pay through prepaid cards. Hletan Traffic Bridge will be built with the loan from Kanbawza Bank. Loans for Tarmway Traffic Bridge will be granted by Myanmar Industrial Development Bank. Traffic bridges at Shwegondine and Bayintnaung will be built under BOT system. So the construction companies that will build the bridges will invest for them. Roads will not be blocked during the construction of the bridges as we will build the floors of the bridges first nearby and then we will drive piles at the sites and move the floors with cranes to the sites,” said the minister who is also the chairman of Myanmar Investment Commission.

Sky rails with investors from Singapore

In addition, the government is inviting foreign investors from Singapore to build sky rail tracks in Yangon and local investors to operate the existing circular train network.

“We have invited investors from Singapore to build sky rails. We have discussed the possibilities with the ambassador of Singapore. We will also permit entrepreneurs to operate the existing circular train services,” said the minister.

To solve the problems of damaged roads, the sewage system and parking spaces

Arrangements are underway to repair damaged road and drainage and sewage systems both at downtown and suburban areas of the city.

“We will repair the damaged road. We will discuss with the chief minister of Yangon Region and the mayor to repair damaged roads in suburban areas like Thaketa. I have already told the mayor to repair roads at night instead of during the daytime. During the day this will cause traffic congestion. In Japan and England, roads are repaired at midnight. We will start all these soon. Then, we will solve the problem of supplying clean water in Yangon. Residents will get clean water easily. As the city was built during the colonial era, we will make it clean and tidy. We will use foreign assistance if possible. We will build a new sewage system instead of repairing the damaged one. We are also planning to provide more parking spaces in Yangon,” the minister said.

Housing for pensioners

“When government employees retire at the age of sixty, most of them cannot afford to buy a house. To solve the problem, we will build houses for them as in Yankin. These housing complexes will not be at downtown. They will be at suitable locations. Retirees will be able to buy the houses by paying the monthly installments. They will have their own houses. Besides, we will take step-by-step measures to add Singapore-style bus lines and bus fare collection systems in the city,” the minister said.

Yangon City Development Plan

“We will draw the Yangon City Development Plan in cooperation with Yangon Region Government and Yangon City Development Committee, and will invite foreign and local assistance to implement the plan. The Yangon City plan is essential,” the minister said.

An urban development expert said, “It is a good idea to build these overpasses at major locations in Yangon. However, expert opinions are more important than completion of the bridges as soon as possible. There are weaknesses in the infrastructure of Yangon, especially in roads. Roads are deteriorating. Only six lanes on eight-lane roads are available for motorists. Some condos were built without car parking. Traffic jams are common. This is not because roads are narrow but because cars cannot be parked systematically due to damaged roads. It is nice to have more cars. However, this should make people more comfortable. We need good roads and pavements and parking spaces.”

Source: Weekly 11 News