Yangon Region works hand-in-hand with public for urban development
The Yangon Region government has reached its 4th year under the incumbent government administration while endeavouring for sustained urban development and the development of its economy, healthcare, education and other essential sectors on their path to make the city of Yangon a comfortable and pleasant place to live in.
Floods & overflows
There used to be a major flooding issue during the rainy season every year but the regional government managed to contain the situation to a degree beginning between 2017-2018.
“There are two parts to the flood issue,” explained Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein. “The first part are the floods caused by water overflowing from rivers and streams and the second part are the backed up sewers around the city causing floods when it rains. We worked to contain the situation given the budget we were allotted.”
Yangon Region is located at the intersection of the Yangon River, Bago River and Nga Moe Yeik River. An initial survey is being conducted to install a pump system to drain the rising tide and influx of water from the confluence of the three rivers. Calls for tender and formation of advisory groups will also follow shortly.
Awareness raising programmes are in place to promote efficient water currents and cleaning programmes for waste-free canals and sewers. A USD 70 million loan from the World Bank will be used to install an appropriate number of sewers corresponding to the population living in Yangon.
The Yangon Region government is collaborating with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to assess septic tanks in back alleys, working together with Clean Yangon and Doh Eain enterprise in restoration and city development matters. Eventually, Yangon’s back alleys are now free of trash and have become clean, safe public recreational areas.
“Public cooperation is essential for these to be a success,” says U Phyo Min Thein. He says they are still raising awareness while simultaneously taking care of the trash. “We’re trying to generate electricity from burning the trash and we are looking into it from all angles,” says the chief minister. “We have made an agreement with Poland for assistance regarding Htein Bin landfill and this system may come into play soon.”
The Yangon Region government is improving transportation for more efficient public transportation by upgrading the circular train, hiring skilled engineers to design and upgrade major city streets, installing modern traffic lights and improving the YBS system.
During the fourth-year period, the implementation of international online taxi services offering safe and secure transportation has significantly improved the urban transportation sector.
“There’s about 2.5 million people using public transport in Yangon,” says U Phyo Min Thein adding that, “Daily commuters are using one form of public transport or the other. This is why we are systematically linking the circular train, YBS and taxi service systems to improve the overall transportation sector.”
The regional government is also improving roads linking towns and villages to make travel more efficient in all weather for people living in urban and rural areas. The regional government has also been upgrading public parks and recreational areas and forming clean and safe night markets that incorporates urban features. They had become peaceful places for relaxing and buying or selling wares.
“We finished upgrading the parks to offer a place for people to take a break and relax and we are working to upgrade the night market as well,” explains the Yangon Region Chief Minister.
In addition, the regional government is implementing balanced strategies to bridge the difference between urban and rural development among the 33 townships within the municipal territory and the 12 townships outside it.
The regional government is working hard to implement 100 per cent electrification across Yangon Region in 2020 and improve the socioeconomic situation of rural areas. The self-help electrification programme was scrapped earlier this year and as a result, local residents will not be required to pay for power cables or power stations as the Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation (YESC) will assume responsibility for all of them.
Agriculture & livestock
The Yangon Region government has long-term plans to develop local agriculture and livestock sectors to ensure food security and improving Nyaung Napin agriculture zone to increase plantations. They are promoting the livestock industry to produce poultry, fishery and meat products that can be exported internationally.
The regional government is expanding industrial zones and upgrading existing industrial zones. They are replacing self-help administration groups with administrative bodies formed by the government to ensure there is proper management, employment opportunities, increasing national export value and attracting foreign revenue.
“When the Foreign Investment Law was amended, the regional investment committee was formed to attract more foreign investment,” said U Phyo Min Thein. “The regional committee has permission for businesses at USD 5 million and under, so business processes have been more efficient.”
Garment factories increased from 200 to 500 in the region and increased jobs in the garment industry, a major job producer in Yangon, has provided employment to the region’s growing population which has in turn increased foreign exports.
The regional government organized investment forums between 2018 to 2019 and will organize new ones in 2020. “Future investors seeking to do business in Yangon will be equipped with more information by the Yangon investment committee soon,” said U Phyo Min Thein. “When Yangon’s investment value increases, it will have a beneficial effect on national revenue and tax and increase employment opportunities as well.”
The biggest challenge in upgrading industrial zones in the region is dealing with the squatter phenomenon. Attempts to systematically relocate them are underway in the form of housing projects in Shwepyitha, Hlinethaya and Dagon Myothit townships.
The regional chief minister said systematically relocating squatters helps to fulfill the labour pool requirements in industrial zones and preserve the integrity of fire safety and water safety there as well. He said dense populations of squatters are a fire hazard and they also clog up the sewers, responsible for creating floods in the rainy season.
Yangon is situated near the Gulf of Martaban and is susceptible to cyclones and other natural disasters. To counter this, nearly 30,000 mangrove plantations have been grown around the townships on the outer perimeter of Yangon. The mangroves also provide economic support to local residents in coastal regions.
The regional government has also issued rules and regulations for businesses from multiple sectors to invest in environmental conservation. They have cooperated with Singapore, Germany and Japan to open vocational training institutes for youths in order for them to secure a professional career with stable and appropriate income in the future.
The regional government also endeavoured to create reasonable job opportunities for local university graduates. “We reopened the Government Technical Institute (GTI) in Insein and collaborated with Japan to remodel Aung San Technical High School (THS),” said U Phyo Min Thein.
The regional government formed the regional travel committee to improve the hotels and tourism sector, upgrade the service industry, and construct additional hotels. There are currently 400 hotels in Yangon.
In addition, Yangon International Airport was upgraded and services have been improved for seaports and airports for international travellers as well. “These processes were carried over the course of four years. It hasn’t all been smooth for us. There were challenges as well,” remarked U Phyo Min Thein.
The regional government has future projects in store for continuing regional development and this involves upgrading the Thilawa Special Economic Zone and 29 other industrial zones and establishing new industrial zones as well.
There is also the Eco Green City project located near the 4th milepost on the Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw highway which will incorporate urban elements.
Other projects include implementing 24-hour electrification, roads and infrastructures, and better ferry services in Kokogyun Township and establishing industrial zones 11 townships outside the municipal territory, which also includes collaborating with Singapore to construct Hlegu industrial zone. A petition to construct an industrial zone in Htantabin Township has been submitted to the Hluttaw.
In addition, construction on Bago River Bridge (3) has began and will connect Yangon and Thanlyin to support Thilawa Special Economic Zone. An important bridge to Dala is also being constructed in order to simultaneously implement regional development in Dala Township.
The regional government will soon call tender applications for the New Yangon City Project on the opposite bank from Kyeemyindine and to gradually relocate Yangon port towards the opening to the sea.
U Phyo Min Thein said they are working hard to implement the Smart City project for multi-sector development in the region and to implement the Yangon Payment Service (YPS) for efficient transportation using the YBS public transport system. Citizens can now also pay their electricity bills through online payment.
The Yangon Region Chief Minister said the biggest challenge during their 4-year tenure so far is handling the land confiscation cases. He said they reviewed about 5,000 cases during that period and effectively responded to all of them.
“All of us will have to struggle together to drive further development moving forward,” said U Phyo Min Thein. “If we can effectively collaborate with the public, then Yangon can become ever more developed then it is now and become a major commercial capital.”
(Translated by Pen Dali)