November 15, 2017

UN-Habitat to cooperate in solving squatter problems

Officials are conducting for temporary identity cards to the squatters in Hlinethaya Township, Yangon Region.  Photo: Zaw Gyi (Panita)

At the press conference regarding performance of Yangon Region government in one year period held on 9 June, Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein expressed his feelings saying that he was very much interested in rehabilitation of squatters and thus he would do his utmost in that regard. In doing so, he said, coordination would be made with UN-Habitat. According to the chief minister, a survey has been conducted to choose an area to implement the plan to make sure that it is systematic. The first step to systematically carry out the plan is to collect the list of the squatters, he said. The previous collection of the lists was carried out systematically applying advanced technology. He also said that preparations have been made to rehabilitate the squatters.
Squatter problems have been headaches for the authorities for long in Yangon Region, and to make sure that there is no fraud in collecting the list, technologies have been used, said the chief minister. He vowed to overcome any hindrances in collecting the list.
The pilot project of collecting the squatter list was conducted by Yangon Region government in September last year. The task is carried out in the respective townships scrutinizing the squatters whether they are real squatters or not. The real ones have been registered and temporary identity cards were issued to them. The chief minister estimates that there are 300,000 squatters but on the ground the number is over 400,000. If necessary, he said, Special Branch will be given authority to scrutinize the numbers. He also said that in accord with the law, the fraudulences will be exposed.
Regarding the squatters at the entrance to Yangon, the chief minister said that the number has increased and some sold the government plot claiming as their own with the hope that these plots will one day become residential areas. He confirmed that this will never happen and actions will be taken against those who sell the state-owned plots which must be managed in accord with the laws, rules and regulations by the government. He also explained that the state, in accord with the law, solely has the right to build a town. Warnings were issued and measures have been taken not to repeat of this situation again, he said.
To settle the squatter problems, Yangon Region government deposited 64 billion kyat at City Bank.
The performance of Yangon Region government in a year included collecting squatter list, rehabilitating them and tackling the problems step by step. To meet this end, maps of squatting plot have been drawn by Yangon City Development Committee with the help of UN-Habitat. In the month of May and June last year survey teams made field trips to 423 areas in 19 townships in Yangon Region. They made survey on socio-economic status of squatters, and checked on paper and on ground. They found out the risk of natural disaster and effect on environmental ecology. They collected information on squatters who are on top of the priority list to be cleared. According to the survey the tasks of raising the living standard, fulfilling the needs in creating good environment and building infrastructures and preventing natural disaster were carried out.
Advanced technology will be applied in collecting squatter list and job opportunities will be created for them. But those who have been registered as squatters been found again in another area would have been punished. Actions will be taken against those who earn their living on the pretext of squatters. Local edict will be issued to collect the number of squatters. Inner circle security services those who collect the squatter list will be provided by Myanmar Police Force. Those who do not abide by the law shall be sued under Act No. 188. Those who squat on the plots of government, YCDC or private will not be regarded as squatters starting from 25 May 2016
but they are to face punitive actions. This is the clarification made by U Phyo Min Thein on 25 May 2016.
After cyclone Nargis, mass migration seeking greener pastures moved to Yangon resulting in increasing squatters.

 

(Translated by Wallace)

Zaw Gyi (Panita)

 

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