Proposed port and highway to align Ayeyarwady with Belt and Road

Ayeyarwady may follow Kyaukphyu and Dawei to be the next region in Myanmar to embrace a deep-sea port together with other infrastructure projects, with a feasibility of the scheme currently under progress.

U Ye Lin from Myanmar Construction and Development Public Co said that a feasibility study is being carried out jointly with South Korea-based Korea Engineering Consultants Corp (KECC) to establish an industrial zone and deep-sea port along the coastline of Ayeyarwady Region.

“The Pathein deep-sea port project is currently being implemented in Ayeyarwady Region. The design will be carried out in a similar approach to the proposed Dawei and Kyaukphyu deep-sea ports. Similar to the two proposed ports, we will construct a deep-sea port in Ayeyarwady Region as well.

“With the deep-sea port, transporting shipments and commodities to our country will be much more convenient.

“The Belt and Road Initiative includes an economic corridor which runs from China to Myanmar.
Pathein is the state capital of Ayeyarwady Region. The city is near Chaung Tha, a popular coastal town and beach resort, as well as Ngwe Saung, another renowned tourist destination.

Myanmar is involved in two of the six economic corridors under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to professional services firm PwC.

The Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor, a hybrid or “amphibious” route, involves a maritime transport loop which aims to provide access of goods from South Asia, via Myanmar’s ports, to Southeast Asia and China.

The Pathein port and industrial zone proposal is not to be confused with the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the country which are governed under the SEZ Law. At present, Myanmar has one SEZ in operation – Thilawa SEZ in southern Yangon, while Dawei and Kyaukphyu have plans to develop an SEZ.

U Ye Lin, who is the MCD’s board secretary, told The Myanmar Times during a media briefing at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) on September 12 that the project bears similarities with the planned SEZs in Dawei and Kyaukphyu.

Similar to the two proposed SEZs, it will include a deep-sea port, factories, residential buildings, hotels and electric generators. The generators will be able to provide sufficient power supply to the deep-sea port – at which over 10,000 tonnes of cargoes can be loaded and unloaded.

Apart from these pending deep-sea port projects, foreign investors have called for a deep-sea port in Yangon’s delta region. In June this year, the European Chamber of Commerce Myanmar, in its annual white book, recommended the development of a deep-sea port at the delta region with an SEZ, from which roads branch out to major cities.

Elevated highway and deeper ports

In addition, an elevated highway connecting the port with major urban centres will be built, according to the MCD board secretary. It is expected that the highway will allow efficient transport of goods from Pathein to Yangon.
The project in Ayeyarwady Region aims to create economic growth and prosperity beyond the country’s commercial hub.

“It is not sufficient for only Yangon city to be prosperous, every state and region needs to be prosperous. Ayeyarwady Region will also have to be prosperous,” U Ye Lin noted.

The depth of Hlaing River limits the capacity of the Thilawa port and vessels weighing more than 10,000 tonnes are unable to operate. When the deep-sea port is constructed in Pathein, vessels weighing 10,000 or even 20,000 tonnes can be docked there, he added.

The exact location of the port will be selected based on considerations in terms of transport, U Ye Lin went on. The Ayeyawady Region government has submitted the project proposal to the Ministry of Construction and Ministry of Planning and Finance.

Currently, the KECC and MCD are jointly working on the feasibility study.

The elevated highway is expected to pass through the Ayeyarwady Region, including the rural farmlands. Therefore, the feasibility study includes examining the soil and land, as well as taking into account the need to establish power supply as well as the logistical difficulties involved.

“The deep-sea port will not be located too far away from the beach. We cannot just get rid of the forest.

“When we construct the elevated highway, we will need to carve out a route which does not affect our natural resources and does not disrupt the public, and we need to minimise the cost as well,” he explained, adding that it will be an international project and it will be looking for millions of investments from abroad. Foreign investors are welcome.

The feasibility study is expected to be completed within three days. If the report findings are positive, it will be submitted to the regional government. Once the Union government and regional government agree, the proposal will go ahead, he said.

The implementation may commence in 2020, according to U Ye Lin. By then, the MCD will disclose more details and explain the scheme with more clarity to the public.

Source: Myanmar Times