Monday, August 21, 2017

Green light for Southwest New City project?

A tentative green light has been given for the development of Yangon’s Southwest New City – but the regional government says it will exercise strict control to keep out land speculators.

A motorbike drives through the Southwest New City project site. Photo: Aung Khant / The Myanmar TimesA motorbike drives through the Southwest New City project site. Photo: Aung Khant / The Myanmar Times

The move appears to dispel some of the uncertainty that has clouded the project since the new regional government took over.

The three companies already selected under a tender process conducted by the last government appear to be still on track to build the project. But the region says it will start a new tender process for a fourth company.

Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said, “The three companies selected [will] have to participate in the new city infrastructure development. Other companies wishing to take part will have to go through the tender process.”

But the Yangon Region Government also said they would clamp down on land speculation to keep prices down.

“We won’t allow these three companies to divide up the land when they implement projects, and we won’t allow them to sell land and pay compensation themselves,” said the chief minister. “Our government will strictly control land speculation as we implement this project systematically.”

The Southwest New City project is one of seven new city projects called for under the Yangon Master Plan 2040. But its implementation had been in some doubt following criticisms of the tender process conducted by the previous government, which had to be run a second time.

In July 2015, another tender for the Southwest project was announced. Although 54 companies had initially signalled interest in the development, only three showed up at Yangon Region Parliament to officially declare their bids: Yangon South West Development Public Company, Business Capital City Development Ltd and Shwe Popa International Construction Company. The project will cover a total of nearly 12,000 acres (4800 hectares) in Twante and Seikgyi Kanaungto townships.

U Tin Sein, spokesperson for Yangon Southwest New City Development, said there was no need for his company to re-enter the tender process.

“The most recent plan for Southwest New City required the construction of Bargayar Bridge across the Hlaing River as part of the project. But since it was postponed, we don’t know if anything has changed. The new government has not met with us and we’ve only just heard about the new tender process,” he told The Myanmar Times.

However, the regional government does intend to continue the project and has drafted a master plan on the instructions of the chief minister, Yangon Mayor U Maung Maung Soe told the regional parliament last month.

“We’re focusing on this project to improve the lives of the people of Yangon, so we’re dealing with companies that can make a success of it,” he said.