Massive Yangon City Expansion Renders Naypyitaw Pointless

Myanmar’s business capital of Yangon will see a massive expansion to accommodate its growing population and make the city more business-friendly and livable, the regional government said. This will make custom-built capital Naypyitaw, located 367 kilometers in the north in the middle of nowhere, an even more pointless city, observers noted.

The New Yangon City Development Company (NYCDC), which is fully owned by the regional government, has been launched in March this year. Plans are that in the first expansion phase between 2018 and 2021, six housing development projects, industrial buildings, as well as a transportation project and dry port will be constructed on some 1,500 square kilometers on the west side of Yangon River at an investment of $1.5 billion.

This will be accompanied by a ten-square kilometer industrial zone, a power plant, transmission and distribution facilities, as well as fresh water supply and waste water treatment plants, officials said. The Yangon Region Investment Committee has also outlined that sub-centers and railway stations will be established as part of the development plan.

The project covers around 15 per cent of the Yangon region and is designed to create massive job opportunities for some two million people. Currently, Yangon has a population of about 7.5 million, but is expected to grow to ten million in the next decade and reach mega-city status likely by 2040.

Currently, the Yangon region accounts for 26 per cent of Myanmar’s GDP in 2016 as estimated by the NYCDC. In comparison, Naypyitaw makes just around 1.4 per cent.

The NYCDC was launched to invite local and foreign investment to facilitate infrastructure development through public-private partnership.

Serge Pun, a business tycoon who heads local conglomerate Serge Pun and Associates, has been named the firm’s CEO and is supported by four other board members, including former Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo, according to NYCDC.

The project began during the tenure of the previous government but was re-assessed under the incumbent government of the National League for Democracy .

However, there have also been critics of the project. Urban planners have questioned the suitability of the proposed site of the massive project on the western bank of the Yangon River, warning that the low-lying area is prone to flooding as it has a maximum elevation of just five meters above sea level. This could, in case of heavy storms, lead to widespread inundation.

Others say the project ridicules the settlement of Naypyitaw as Myanmar’s new capital just ten years ago as administrative center which has developed into a place resembling a ghost town with literally now economic activity apart from hotels and transport, despite construction costs of an estimated $4 billion.

Source: investvine

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