Friday, August 18, 2017

Riverside squatters to get rental housing in early 2016

Low-cost housing intended for use by people who have been squatting in temporary huts along the Ayeyarwady River in Mandalay is expected to be available for rent in January, according to the Mandalay City Development Committee.

Construction continues on rental housing along the Ayeyarwady River in Mandalay on December 1. Photo: Si Thu Lwin / The Myanmar TimesConstruction continues on rental housing along the Ayeyarwady River in Mandalay on December 1. Photo: Si Thu Lwin / The Myanmar Times

U Hla Myo, head of MCDC’s Administration Department, told The Myanmar Times on December 1 that 22 six-storey buildings have been finished, with a total of 1584 rooms available.

“We are asking the government to give us a permit for 2016. Once we receive permission, we will start renting the rooms to applicants,” he said, adding that a three-month deposit will be required and rent must be paid monthly. Applications will be accepted only from homeless or landless people who have been staying on MCDC or government land along the river in Mandalay, and who have been reporting these temporary stays to relevant ward-administration offices.

Applicants must also show their family registration cards and national registration cards, and cannot have criminal records or be facing any lawsuits.

Each room is 10 feet by 30 feet, and is equipped with a toilet and washroom. Monthly rental prices are K35,000 for the ground floor; K30,000 for the first and second floors; K25,000 for the third and fourth floors; and K15,000 for the fifth floor.

Daw Thida Aye, who lives in a temporary hut along the river, said she has already applied for the housing.

“A room would be convenient for our family of four, but we don’t know how we can pay rent yet. We heard we will have to pay a deposit. But we would like to move in as soon as we are allowed,” she said.

The Mandalay riverfront has been a contentious area in recent months. In December 2014, MCDC forced about 200 residents to demolish their homes and shift from the bank of the Ayeyarwady River just three days before a visit by Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja.

MCDC officials took the drastic step out of embarrassment at the grinding poverty on show along the city’s riverfront. Their actions backfired dramatically, however, with King Harald telling Norwegian Broadcasting that he was “very sorry” about the forced evictions.

However, within weeks of the king and queen’s visit, most evicted residents had returned to the sites of their former homes along the river.

Translation by Kyawt Darly Lin