A year after fire destroyed Mingalar market – one of Yangon’s largest – a competition to design a new building as begun. But many shopkeepers are impatient and would rather see the market rebuilt as soon as possible.
More than 1600 shops went up the blaze that gutted Mingalar market in January 2016 – the second time in six years that a serious fire had broken out.
Months of uncertainty followed as former shop owners wondered whether they would be re-housed or whether they should make their own arrangements. Even when the government did provide temporary spaces in other markets nearby, many sellers found them insufficient and chose to rent ground floor apartments.
Yangon City District Council is planning to build a new Mingalar market, and earlier this month the Association of Myanmar Architects (AMA) announced in state media a competition for the building’s design.
But the start of this month also saw protests from Mingalar market shop owners angry that after a whole year they have yet to see building work begin.
U San Shwe Tun, head of the Markets Department at YCDC, said that plans had only reached the design competition stage.
“We don’t know exactly the steps [to be taken] in calling a tender for construction,” he said. “Although this case concerns the Markets Department it’s controlled by the YCDC Committee.”
He referred questions on when the project would be finished to the YCDC Committee, who could not be reached for comment.
An AMA spokesperson said the association had called for entries to the design competition under instruction from YCDC, but that it could not comment on when construction would start.
“The competition is open to every single Senior Licensed Architect [SLA] or a group led by an SLA,” the spokesperson said. “They have to compete in creating a design for the master plan of Mingalar Market and other related buildings.”
The design must allow for the same retails shops and restaurants as the original building, and the market can be no higher than 417 feet above sea level.
The old market’s shop owners, however, would like a bit more transparency about how their new home is being constructed.
“They didn’t ask our opinion or what we need in the market,” said Ma Darli Myint, who owned a stall in the old market. “We don’t also know how many floors the building will have or how many shops. They do as they like without cooperating with shop owners.”
And like other shop owners still operating in temporary spaces, she also wants to see things move faster.