August 14, 2017

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Yangon Government collaborates with International Organisations for squatter relocation plans

The Yangon Region Government announced it will collaborate with international organisations to relocate squatters away from the state-owned land.
At the press conference on the government’s one-year performance held on 9 June, Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said they are interested in resettlement efforts for the squatters and are discussing resettlement plans with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). The government is compiling a list of squatters that will aid them in choosing an area of land for the resettlement programme.
The Yangon Region Government started compiling a list of squatters in September 2016 starting in Dagon Myothit (South)Township and has completed surveys in many other townships. The government has also issued temporary identity cards to the squatters
The number of squatters trespassing in development committee lands was initially thought to be around 300,000 people the survey revealed there is actually over 400,000 squatters. The squatters can be roughly divided into five categories, including squatting of homeless people for housing needs, squatters renting housing to each other and squatting for commercial purposes.
U Phyo Min Thein said although the population of squatters has exceeded their estimated numbers, they are investigating into whether most of them are actually homeless people or not. He said the government will allow media agencies to participate in the investigations if needed and that people lying to the government to be included in the squatters’ list will be dealt with accordingly with the law. The Chief Minister said there have been increased incidents of squatters along the entrance of the Yangon highway. Some of them are selling state owned plots of land knowing that these lands may be included in future city expansion projects. From the government’s side, they have been issuing warnings and taking preventive measures to combat people selling state owned lands. The Yangon Region Government has allotted Ks 64billion to City Bank, which is under the Yangon City Development Committee’s administration, for use in housing projects to solve the homeless squatter problems. The regional government conducted a survey from May to June 2016 to map the areas occupied by squatters. They were able to analyze 423 areas in 19 townships with collaboration from UN-Habitat. When conducting the survey consideration was given to the socio-economic conditions of the squatters, the period of their illegal residence, the possibility of natural disasters, their effects on the local ecosystem and prioritizing which squatters should be relocated first. The collected information will be used in planning housing projects for the squatters.
The Chief Minister said temporary housing and job opportunities will be given to squatters but the government will take legal action against squatters registered in the survey if they were to be found trespassing on other state owned land again.
The police force will accompany officials conducting survey in the squatter territory for security purposes. The Chief Miniser said in a press conference on 25 May 2016 that those who fail to comply will be pressed charges under Section 188 and will be removed from the squatter list.
After cyclone Nargis in 2008, the number of squatters in Yangon increased as people migrated to the city to find jobs. — Zaw Gyi (PaNiTa)

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