By Shin Minn, Photo by Kay Kay
The Ministry of Construction is working hard for the completion of roads, bridges, and urban amenities in the country with over 330 towns and cities under standardized urban planning.
Urban planning is a technical and political process concerned with the control of the use of land and design of the urban environment, including transportation networks, to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities.
Covering (80) per cent of village areas with road access for (90) per cent of rural population, (42,000) kilometres long standardized roads for use round the year are under the care of the Ministry of Construction.
Road constructions are in line with the ASEAN Class III specification with the minimum requirement of (18) feet width driveways paved with asphalt roads and concrete roads. With an intent to achieve this asphaltget, all the bridges are designed with (24) feet width in two lanes pathway implemented in reinforced concrete bridge / precast concrete bridge / iron frame bridge are in the pipeline for implementation.
An interview was arranged on the Fourth Year Work Progress of Ministry of Construction.
U Han Zaw, Union Minister, Ministry of Construction
Question: Please tell us the policy, aim and objective, tasks, strategies, and tactics of the Ministry of Construction.
Answer: With multifaceted aims and objectives we are working on all round development for the social development of the entire population. The tasks included such as that of the road and bridge constructions; that of housing constructions; that of parallel development in the construction of roads, bridges, and urban planning in states and regions; that of in uplifting GDP of the country with the least budget in spending for transport sector; that of reducing the travelling time for the passengers; that of clearing hindrances in building roads and bridges; that of comfortable and cozy housing projects for the population; that of the sustainability of village roads and bridges; and that of socio-economic development of rural communities.
Q: Please tell us about the aims and responsibilities.
A: Our aims and responsibilities to be accomplished by 2020 are to equip the country with over (42,000) miles stretch roads in ASEAN Class III standard (with the minimum requirement of (18) feet wide driveways paved with asphalt roads and concrete roads. With an intent to achieve this asphaltget, all the bridges are designed with (24) feet width in two lanes pathway implemented in reinforced concrete bridge / precast concrete bridge / iron frame bridge are in the pipeline for implementation). Over (330) towns and cities in the country are to be designed in urban planning to be completed by the year 2030.
Housing projects are meant for accommodating one million households planned out to be realized by the government and the private sector. Moreover, (80) per cent of village areas and (90) per cent of rural population will have access village roads for use the whole year. Tasks are to be realized year by year. Similarly, by the year 2030, village roads with the stretch of (55,000) miles are to be upgraded to Class (A) for the portion of (25,600) miles in (12) feet width paved with asphalt elements on concrete elements. Moreover, Class (B) roads with the stretch of (17,000) miles paved with asphalt or concrete or stones. Moreover, (12,400) long class (C) roads will be paved in (12) feet width in gravel or hard layer materials.
Q: Kindly explain on the strategies and tactics on the projects.
A: The implementations are carried out with the government budget. When feasible, some tasks are being implemented through the Private Public Partnership which is called PPP Programme. The projects included development partners such as JICA, ADB, WB, KOICA and TICA utilizing grants and loans.
Q: Tell us the drafting of rules and regulations.
A: The Ministry of Construction is in the lead for drafting the Myanmar National Building Code (MNBC) in collaboration with the UN Habitat and Myanmar Engineering Association. The relevant ministries involved in the tasks and completed in 2016 in English version. The official Myanmar version is in process to be completed in 2020. Building Construction Industry Law (BCID Law) is drafted beginning 2018, and that the documents are being referred to Union Attorney General Office and the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry, and the final remarks are being received.
On 29 January 2016, the Law on Collective Ownership of Building has been enacted; on 7 December 2017 the Bye-Law on Collective Ownership Building has been released; on 4 December 2018, the amended Bye-laws are released. Law on National Housing Development (Draft) and the Law on National Level Urban Planning (Draft) are in the process of drafting. The main and mega projects namely New Mandalay Resort City is in the pipeline in Pyin Oo Lwin in Mandalay Region. The Eco Green City Project, the Korea-Myanmar Industrial Complex (KICM) Project is in Hlegu Township of Yangon Region. Housing Projects namely Smart District and Ayeyar Wun and Yadanar Projects are in Dagon Seikan Township of Yangon Region. Moreover, Yangon Amata Smart and Eco City Project are situated in Dagon Myo Thit (East and South) in Yangon Region. In later part of the projects, the Ministry of Construction is entrusting regulatory bodies to oversee the tasks with proper rules and regulations including quality control, free from bribery and corruption.
All the construction tasks are to be implemented by the relevant ministries, the offices of regional government and state governments. Fourth Year Work Progress Report of Ministry of Construction would be explained by the Deputy Minister.
Dr. Kyaw Lin, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Construction
Q: Kindly explain the ongoing tasks and the fourth year’s progress as a whole of the Ministry of Construction.
A: First of all, I would like to talk about the work being implemented by the Building Department. The department is carrying out the building construction tasks across the country in accordance with the prescribed norms and standards with fine quality control and that all the planned asphalt roads are to be accomplished on time. With a view to monitor and quality control of all the work across the country, standardized norms are prescribed to have equal result. Therefore, the Building Department has drafted “Building Construction Industry Development Law (BCID Law)” and submitted to Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. When enacted, the said law would cover all regulatory in making similar prescribed standards. At a time, when the BCID Law is enacted, we need to apply “Myanmar National Building Code (MNBC). The code under referral is in the process of final stage in English versions with the assistance of UN Habitat and Myanmar Engineering Association. The translation into Myanmar is also completed on (95) per cent, and that the translated documents are to be distributed across the country. When the BCID Law is enacted, we need to distribute assortment of manuals related to construction sphere, the fire fighting sphere, and the safety and protection sphere. These relevant documents are being drafted and approved with the assistance of KOICA. The relevant instructions would be circulated when the BCID Law is released.
Q: Please explain us about the ISO Laboratory under the Ministry of Construction.
A: The Building Department has established own laboratory. The laboratory examines the parts of the building structure. Now, our laboratory has been tagged with ISO/ IEC 17025: 2017, and that Myanmar establishments mostly have ISO with 9001 Quality Management System. The ISO 9000 family of quality management systems is a set of standards that helps organizations ensure they meet customers and other stakeholder needs within statutory and regulatory requirements related to a product or service. Directives are to be issued for the quality consistency, for the finer quality, and for the timely completion of the tasks.
Q: Please explain the fourth year’s progress reports of the Road Management Department and Bridge Management Department.
A: I would like to explain fourth year work progress as well as the previous three years works implementation in terms of region-wise programmes and state-wise programmes. First of all, I take pleasure in talking about (2000) miles long roads located in Kachin State. Out of (2000) long stretch, (26) per cent of roads are neither asphalt roads nor concrete roads. The other (74) per cent of driveways are asphalt roads and concrete roads accessible for use the whole year round. One amazing factor of road in that part is Myitkyina – Sumprabum – Putao road stretching (220) miles. In the past, the portion of that road was infamous as “Bwet Tan Lan” (muddy swampy messy road), which tormented the travellers for three nights or four nights on the road. The road customarily snapped up during rainy days. Within short span of three years, the nightmarish journey has been substituted with asphalt roads and concrete roads.
In May 2020, an event would be hosted to celebrate the successful commissioning of the road. With the completion of the road, a traveler could depart Myitkyina at 6:00 pm in the evening. Journey completed in a single day. Going up above from Putao, one reaches beautiful Pan Nann Din Town at the foot of Hkakabo Razi Mountain, believed to be Myanmar’s highest mountain. Moving further, one arrives at Naun Mon Town. In the past, a traveller needed to spend four nights on the rugged trail as there was no motorway to drive. Nowadays, fine roads with connecting bridges have been constructed in place of rugged trails. One may enjoy in a single day trip from Putao to Pan Nan Din Town and then to Naung Mon Town.
In the past, Myitkyina – Bhamo Road was terrible and dreadful in shape, and that the traveller needed to spend time for one whole day. In easing the travel time, Myitkyina – Bhamo Road is under repair to complete the journey in just two hours. The whole section of Shwebo – Myitkyina Road has been expanded to (18) feet width as asphalt road, connecting with concrete bridges.
In Kayah State, there are (500) total miles of roads in the areas, and that (80) per cent of the roads have been improved into asphalt roads and concrete roads. The remaining (20) per cent of roads are to be improved into asphalt and concrete roads. It has been completed for (100) per cent use in all weather condition throughout the year.
During the fourth year of work progress, Kantara Waddy Bridge in Kayah State had been inaugurated. During the short span of three years, all the necessary roads and bridges have been successfully delivered to the public. With regards to Kayin State, only (20) per cent out of (800) miles long roads needed to be transformed into asphalt roads and concrete roads. The other portion of (80) per cent has been upgraded into asphalt roads and concrete roads, making roads accessible all year round.
The Kayin State is particular in a special way as it has trade links with Thailand. In other words, the development of road communications in the state is supportive to the development of trade of Myanmar. With that in perspective, Myanmar – Thai Friendship Bridge Number (2) has been successfully commissioned in Myawady Town. In connection with the bridge, there is road named Eindu – Kawkareik Road, which is in process of upgrading with the loans taken from Asian Development Bank amounting US$ 120 million. The construction is expected to be completed during dry open season. When completed, the motorway from Hpa-an to Myawady would be much developed. Moreover, Kawkareik Bridge is located on that particular road, and that the bridge has been upgraded with the aid assistance of JICA.
In Chin State, there are over (1,300) miles long roads, and that only (16) per cent left to transform into asphalt and concrete. A total of (84) per cent of roads have been upgraded within three years time. Since the advent of incumbent government, emphasis has been given for the development of road communications in Rakhine State and Chin State. Therefore, priority is being given in number one slot for the development of road communications in these two states.In the past, a traveller needed to spend two to three night on the road to arrive at Kyee Kharr Town and Toon Zan Town in the northern part of Chin State. Paletwa Town in southern part of Chin State could take enormous time to travel in the past.
Nowadays, the travel from Kyee Kharr Town in northern part to Paletwa Town in southern part could be reached by vehicle in a shorter period of time. Tasks of road buildings are being done in four years time.
An airport is on the agenda scheduled to open soon in Falam of Chin State. With focal point in Falam some roads such as Falam – Hakha; Falam – Reed; Falam – Tiddim have been equipped with asphalt roads and concrete roads during four years time.
Recently, Kalay – Falam – Hhaka with (124) miles long road is to be repaired with the loans from the World Bank, and that feasibility survey is in progress. The road is to be upgraded soon.
In Sagaing Region, there are (2,800) miles of motorways, and that (95) per cent of all roads are accessible all year round. At this juncture, I would like to say about La Hai Town, a place very difficult to reach in the past. Nowadays, travelling between Kamti and La Hai takes only about three and half hours. La Hai Town is not a far away town any more. Moreover, road to Lai She Town is only (42) miles and that the town is not upgraded through asphalt road.
In the past, Nam Yoon Town could be reached only through Kachin State. Nowadays, the town is connected with motor roads during four years’ time. During dry season in summer people could travel from La Hai to Nam Yoon in day trip. Better roads are being provided to Sagaing Region, at the desire of Ye Oo local people, river crossing bridge (Ye Oo Bridge) has been constructed.
In Taninthayi Region, there are (1,709) miles long road connections and that only (16) per cent is yet to be upgraded. Kaw Thaung could be reached within a single day. There are (3) bridges under construction. The names are Tamote Lut Lut Bridge; Pulone Tone Tone Bridge; and Taninthayi Bridge, and that they are to be completed in 2020.
In Bago Region, there are (1,342) miles long roads and that only (5) per cent is necessary to be upgraded. The main strategic task in Bago Region is the linking of Pyay in the Bago West and Toungoo in the Bago East. It is linking with seven mountain crossing roads or Bago Yoma crossing roads, with the bridges constructed in reinforced concrete. Over (2,000) miles of roads in Magway Region, (99) per cent is being upgraded for use in all year round. Mone Chaung Bridge is to be upgraded with reinforced concrete. Ayeyawady River crossing bridge at Tayet—Aunglan Town in Magway Region is now under construction. In Mandalay Region, only (3) per cent is left to transform into asphalt roads. Mandalay Region must have a better road communication as the area is major trade centre with China. As Mon State is linking trade with Thailand, the roads and bridges must be in good shape, and that focus is given in this matter.
Q: Please tell us on the task undertaken in Rakhine State where state leaders have directed for priority.
A: Rakhine State has been given priority. In the past, it takes (12) hours to reach Ngapali, now it takes only (8) hours. So also, the travel from Minbu to Ann takes (18) hours, and now it takes only (10) hours. The bridges are upgraded with reinforced concrete. From Anghu Maw to Buthidaung and Maungdaw in northern part are being paved with concrete roads with UEHRD plans. Moreover, four roads of Mayu Mountain crossing have been realized.
Q: Please tell us about the fourth year progress tasks in the remaining regions and states.
A: In Shan State, Yangon Region, and Ayeyawaddy Region, the roads and bridges have been upgraded. Moreover, Pathein Bridge in Ayeyawaddy Region is earmarked to open in June. Myaung Mya Bridge and Labutta Bridge have been opened. Many more bridges have been upgraded.
Q: Tell us about Yangon – Mandalay Expressway.
A: Road accidents have occurred on the expressway, and that public outcry and worry were heard. In 2016, about average (3,000) vehicles used the expressway each day, and that over (700) accidents had occurred in that year, with (170) deaths. Therefore, the expressway has been repaired as necessary, and the number of car accidents has been reduced.
In 2019, around (5,000) vehicles droved on the expressway each day in that year, with (500) accidents only, down from (700) in the previous year (2016). The number of deaths was only (108). Upgrading of roads will be continued.
Q: Tell us about Department of Urban and Housing Development.
A: The main task is urban planning, and that a total of (21) urban planning has been created. Matters with regards to urban planning have been taken up for cooperation with foreign organizations. During the planned period low-cost housing, moderate-price housing is being constructed in Yangon Region and Ayeyawaddy Region. Regions and states have undertaken in the constructions for the employees housing. The department is working in cooperation with Land and Housing Corporation (LH) of Korea for the construction of the Korea Myanmar Industrial Complex (KMIC).
Q: Please explain the implementations of the Department of Rural Road Development.
A: The department has categorized Class (a), Class (b), and Class (c) on the rural roads that has stretched over (55,000). In the year 2030, a total of (90) per cent would come under all year round accessible rural roads. The President in his speech delivered on 17 April 2018, he promised in providing (600) miles rural roads in the country. Our Ministry of Construction fulfilled the directive of the President by paving gravel roads, laterite roads, concrete roads, asphalt roads. We have successfully paved more than the length of roads being promised by the President.
In conclusion, I would like to say that our Ministry has five different departments, and that the departments are working to the best of their abilities for the development of sector-wise tasks such as roads, bridges, and urban and housing.
Interviewer: Thanks to the Deputy Minister for providing us with all the relevant information. Translated by UMT (Ahlon)