Interviewer: Thi Thi Min, Photos: Maikha
The Nay Pyi Taw Council is setting its goal of development in both towns and villages in sight and is working diligently to achieve this. During the third year of the current administration, the Nay Pyi Taw Council has accomplished several work plans in Nay Pyi Taw’s development, carrying out cleanliness of the city and upholding rule of law.
The media team enjoyed the chance to interview with the Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman Dr. Myo Aung about the progress of the council during the third year of the incumbent government.
Q: What are some of the work plans the Nay Pyi Taw Council completed during the three years of the current administration?
A: There are 8 townships with 1 million residents in Nay Pyi Taw: around 350,000-400,000 is government employees while 650,000-700,000 are local populace. The main focus -especially in our third year- was to fill the gaps in health care, electricity, transportation and education that people need and the Nay Pyi Taw Council embraced the measures with great vigor. In addition, we are working with the Nay Pyi Taw Development Committee to bring life to the city with clean streets, thriving greenery and neat public spaces in line with the laws and regulations in place.
Q: How is the council developing the education sector, amongst others?
A: In the education sector, we had over kyats 5492 million approved for the 106 work plans during the 2018-2019 financial year using the different funding sources from national to other donations. Over 96 basic education schools have been upgraded with additional 566 teachers employed on the national and regional levels along with introducing the new curriculum.
Q: What about the health sector for the public?
A: The council has spent over kyats 1700 million on 24 different work plans for its 6 month mini-budget. Our current emphasis is on immunization program such diseases as polio, diphtheria and acute pneumonia. There were no health outbreaks last year. There is also the 1000 bed Nay Pyi Taw hospital with 23 specialist units. Our biggest accomplishment in last year has been on the new wing for operating heart surgery. We operated on 79 patients successfully in our first batch and has treated over 100 patients over the 5 months. There is also the new X-ray machine installed that reduces the side-effects for the operator. Also, as part of the One Stop Service – a new initiative by the current administration- we treat and house child sexual abuse victims and orphaned/abandoned babies temporarily before handling them with the respective government departments.
Q: What about improvements regarding infrastructure such as roads and bridges building?
A: The council is focusing on the big roads to connect the villages. There are a total of 624 work plans with kyats 31814 million budget from different sources for funding. These are spent towards upgrading existing infrastructure such as the Yangon-Mandaly highway with proper drainage so there will be no floods during monsoon.
Q: Can you talk to us more about the Irrigation, Livestock and Farmland sectors?
A: Nay Pyi Taw has a lot of farmers and most of their livelihood is working in the farms. This made Nay Pyi Taw very self-sufficient in the region regarding staples. There are over 700,000 farmers working on rice paddy fields of 17000 acres producing up till 15 million tons of grains. The council is building drainage systems so there will not be floods during heavy rains. In the 2018-19 year alone, these systems have protected up till 2400 acres of land from flood. Regarding livestock, the council is also distributing vaccines along with giving training on raising livestock to over 5000 people.
Q: Can you elaborate more on distributing electricity?
A: The biggest advantage for Nay Pyi Taw is that we get our energy from dams including upper and middle Paunglaung dams. Out of the 796 villages in Nay Pyi Taw Council Area, 432 villages have access to electricity with plans for the national grid to roll out to 48 more villages. The rest are also planned to gain access through the 2019-2020 and 2025-2026 financial years as we build more substations and wire lines.
Q: What about access to clean water?
A: There are a total of 30 dams that Nay Pyi Daw Development Committee is in charge of and 10 other managed by the Irrigation Department for drinking water. We also build wells for areas that the dams cannot reach. During the 2018-2019 financial year, there was a budget of kyats 6200 million for over 100 work plans.
Q: Can you elaborate on the plans for the socioeconomic development in the area?
A: Every year at Uttara Thiri Township, the residents are often burdened by floods in the area. With the council’s work plans activities, we managed to save over 2900 houses and 3500 acres of farm land from floods. There are also 43 additional housing units built for government employees in the 2017-18 financial year and 76 more during the 2018-19 financial year that is almost 20% finished. For socioeconomic development, there are more than 22 vocational training opened and planning to organize the 72 training workships with a kyats 135 million budget planned for the 2018-2019 financial year.
Q: What about regarding rule of law?
A: There were educative talks by the law enforcements officers educating people on crime. There are 51 CCTV cameras that operate 24/7 around the gates of the towns. We have also amped up our efforts against drugs, busting 93 cases alone last year.
Q: Can you explain to us about the small loans program with little interest that is available for Nay Pyi Taw locals?
A: EXIM Bank is working towards giving small loans with minimal interest to start farmers up for their crops. This year, the bank was able to lend to 22001 members for around kyats 3366 million. Such kind of systems protect farmers against loan sharks and lowers their interest by heart. For other SME loans, the second round of the SME program loaned kyats 4132 million.
Q: What about the efforts towards a clean city?
A: There was a new market opened last year – the Aung Zabu Market. Building such markets takes the vendors off the streets, keeping the streets cleaner and also helping with traffic and trash created from the sales. There were also 77 concrete bridges built, with over 3244 feet long roads built in townships in Nay Pyi Taw Council Area. We also decided to give out tenders to build water-fountain park in 2018 and are already drawing out tender application outlines and requirements.
Regarding public information, we just started broadcasting the CATV line starting 2019 February. The channel will be broadcasting news, prospective govt projects and other services planned for Nay Pyi Taw. The Nay Pyi Taw Zabuthiri hospital have also recently expanded in 2018 so that it will be able to accommodate more patients.
A unique thing we have done is regarding illegal squatters. There are over 1200 people illegally squatting in Nay Pyi Taw. We have started projects on building affordable housing on a 15 year installments.
Q: What about preventative measures against natural disasters?
A: Nay Pyi Taw, like other states and regions in Myanmar, experiences a lot of natural disasters with a total of 85 last year. This affected around 934 households with a total of 19000 people with 86 million kyats aid distributed for rehabilitation. There have been educational talks for natural disasters and earthquake simulations along with up till 227722 students trained by volunteer groups on aiding during a natural disaster.
Q: Can you elaborate more on the Smart cities initiative?
A: Nay Pyi Taw is part of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network and is working towards the status through an Action Plan to improve on three areas. The Hotel and embassy zones have been selected as a pilot area with smart street lighting installed in collaboration with Singapore. E-Government along with public services using ICT are also being implemented towards this step. The GIS database is also under construction so that people can look up electricity voltages and crowds in certain places online. The GIS pilot project is currently implemented in Thapyay Gone district.
Q: Any additional comments?
A: There are 5 main roadmaps that our senior advisor has given. Within those, there is a call for discussion regarding development. Our focus is tourism. We are currently working on building a studio for entertainment on an international scale for international attraction. Hopefully, our department contributes to the best of our abilities to aid in developing not only Nay Pyi Taw, but the country as a whole.
Translated by Myat Thu