Road engineers are trying their best to improve the road between Buthidaung and Maungtaw in northern Rakhine State.
Buthidaung and Maungtaw, two towns in Northern Rakhine, are divided by Mayu Mountain Range and transportation between them always posed a problem to local people.
In addition, landslides often occur along the road during the rainy seasons, resulting in blockage of the road.
Despite the difficulties, about 450 vehicles have to use the road between the two towns as it is an entrance to the neighbouring country.
“During the previous rainy season, landslide occurred along the section of two furlong length and we had to remove about 30 million cubic feet of earth within a week. We are trying to build a gravel road there. In addition, we are widening the road at blind sights so that vehicles can drive smoothly,” said U Khin Maung Lwin, Assistant Engineer of Maungtaw District Road Department.
The road department is responsible for maintenance of eight roads including Buthidaung-Maungtaw Road, Buthidaung-Thinbawseik Road, Buthidaung-Kyaiktaw Road, Maungtaw-Alethankyaw-Angukyaw Road, Maungtaw-Kyikanpyin-Kyainchaung-Aungthapyay-Bandoola Road, and Taungpyo-Kyainchaung Road, Taungpyo-Gordonkha Road and Liekya-Leikya Station Road in Taungpyo Township. The eight roads has a total length of about 149 miles.
“We are widening and straightening Buthidaung-Maungtaw Road. People can travel from Buthidaung to Maungtaw within 45 minutes. After we have straightened and paved the road, it will take only 30 minutes to travel between the two towns,” said U Zaw Min, Assistant Director of the road department.
The road will be widened from current width of 25 feet to 34 feet with 18-foot wide asphalt road within a five-year plan.
Arrangement to build walls where landslides often occur during the rainy season is also underway, according to the engineers of the department.
The road was built as a railway line in 1916 and completed in 1918 and it was made a road in 1962. During the times of the British colonialists, two tunnels were built through mountains along the road.
“We have done maintenance work along the two tunnels as they were seeping. However, they are too narrow for big vehicles, machinery and armoured vehicles to drive through. We built a round road of about three furlong length and it was completed in 2014. Most vehicles, including light ones and heavy ones are using the round road.
One of the tunnels has a length of 658 feet, a height of 12.5 feet and a diameter of 15.5 feet. Another tunnel has a length of 98 feet, a width of 15.5 feet and a height of 12.5 feet.
The two tunnels were built in 1916 by a railway company from Florida and completed in 1918.
“We never closed the tunnels but almost all vehicles are using the round road,” U Zaw Min said.