Bridge from Yangon to Dala breaks ground

A bridge that will link downtown Yangon to underdeveloped Dala township received the official green light yesterday, after a majority of local landowners agreed to give up their property in return for compensation.

The project, which will be built with funding from Korea, was launched in Dala township yesterday.

“We can metaphorically call the Yangon-Dala bridge the dream bridge come true,” said U Kyaw Lwin, Union minister for construction.

“Today we launch the project and pay compensation to local landowners. When the bridge is built, it will help to develop local business, society, health and education.”

The bridge has been publically discussed since 2012, framed as a Korean gesture of goodwill toward Myanmar. After a temporary pause in negotiations, last November the two governments agreed that Korea would issue a loan to fund construction.

Since then, the government has been discussing payment with local landowners. Of the 68 landowners in the proposed project area, 65 have agreed to the terms, while three are still holding out, said U Tin Oo, chief project engineer from the Ministry of Construction.

“Three owners want their land to be returned but the others agreed that our compensation was fair,” he said.

The construction ministry has paid K130 million per acre, lower than the average land price in Dala, said U Khin Maung Nyunt, one of the former landowners who was compensated yesterday.

“The current price is more than K200 million per acre, but we didn’t object because we had no chance to negotiate. We must be thankful that the government didn’t just seize our land, as happened in the past. But I say truly, the compensation does not make up for the cost of removing us.”

Nevertheless, he said, Dala residents recognise that the bridge will bring many benefits to the area. While Dala is geographically very close to downtown Yangon, it is currently only accessible by boat, or by a long overland journey. As a result it has remained rural and relatively untouched by development.

U Tin Oo said the compensation rate was determined by striking a balance between the needs of the government, which has a finite budget, and local residents.

The appraised rate for land in Dala was K15 million per acre which the government multiplied by three and added a compassionate gran, taking the total to K130 million, he said.

Compensation cost the ministry a total of K3.3 billion including the cost of rebuilding a school, monastery, pagoda and market that are located within the project area.

The bridge will take around five years to build and construction is slated for completion by the end of 2020. The project has been budgeted to cost US$168.174 million. Of this, $137.83 million will be funded through a loan from Korea, and the Ministry of Construction will cover the remainder.

“We will be able to draw down the loan in five instalments, and the interest rate is 0.01 percent, payable within 40 years,” U Tin Oo said.

The design phase will take around a year, with construction due to begin next year. The bridge will also feature a water pump line to distribute water from Yangon to Dala.


Source: Myanmar Times

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