Yangon needs ‘better land utilisation, city planning’

THE YANGON region government has been urged to improve land utilisation and city planning before urbanisation worsens the city’s living conditions.

Kyaw Latt, an urban planning expert and senior adviser to the Yangon City Development Committee, said hundreds of acres in the city’s commercial centre remained unused.

“It is a shame that we are among the countries with the lowest green areas per capita,” he said. “Yangon can offer only 18.7 square feet of green area per capita, against 235.7 in Tokyo, 178.8 in Seoul and 70.5 in Singapore.

“Most of Yangon’s green areas are in the inner-city zone while other parts of the region have few parks and playgrounds. We do have many empty land plots to fulfil the need [for more green spot]. The best time [to do that] is now.”

Yangon is home to more than 5 million people. Kyaw Latt expects this number to rise to 15 million over the next 20-30 years and this government should take the lead in preparing for the urbanisation.

“Expansion of the city has been on our radar since 1997 when nearly 17,000 acres [6,900 hectares] near the Layhtauntkan Station in the northeast were reserved as part of the city’s territory. Now, some private companies have illegally bought most of these land plots. The regional government should be given a legal tool to reclaim the ownership of these land plots.”

As part of the zoning, Kyaw Latt said new schools should be banned in the inner-city zone so that traffic problems did not escalate and pose problems to flows of goods. Currently, only 66 per cent of children under the age of 10 living in Yangon have access to basic education. In going to school, they suffer from long travel times.

He added that an inner-ring road and expansion of the city train network should ease traffic jams. More than 3 million people regularly travel to work and more than 80 per cent of them use buses and only 5 per cent travel by the circular train line.

He also suggested building new markets – both wholesale and retail – as well as highway bus terminals, while underscoring the importance of the city’s cultural heritages including its colonial buildings.

As most of the markets are located in central Yangon and in the south, new big markets should be built in the east and west. Heritage conservation should be taken into serious consideration and should be controlled by zoning regulations.

If the zoning rules are changed and properly implemented, industrial zones in Yangon will have the capacity to create 5 million jobs, up from 2.3 million right now, he said.

“About 20 years ago, the Housing Department reserved more than 10,000 industrial plots worth 3-4 million kyats [Bt91, 000-Bt121,000] each. Now we have learnt that only 54 per cent of these plots are occupied while 7 per cent are under construction,” he said. “Nearly 40 per cent of the plots are still empty. Now a big company has taken control of these plots. If someone wants to build a factory there, he needs to buy the plots for 400-600 million kyats.”

According to a previous government’s statistics released late 2015, there are 2,339 empty land plots with a combined area of 4,418 acres in Yangon. There are also 1,299 empty warehouses in 29 industrial zones in the city.

Source: Eleven Myanmar

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