RANGOON — Burma will need nearly US$5 million and 18 months to finish repairing extensive damage to the nation’s rail network in the wake of August’s floods disaster.
State run newspapers reported on Friday that the Ministry of Rail Transport estimates a 6.3 billion kyats (US$4.9 million) repair bill for a number of rail lines operating in seven of the country’s 15 administrative divisions.
Than Htay, the Naypyidaw-based deputy general manager of Myanmar Railways, told The Irrawaddy that the rail operator was prioritizing repair works on lines linking Mandalay with Kachin state capital Myitkyina, the line between Pakokku and the Sagaing township of Kale, and damaged track in Arakan State.
“We don’t have enough in our budget for all these damaged tracks, that’s why we’re calculating total amount to propose a budget to the government and other institutions like the World Bank,” he said. “As priority the Mandalay to Myitkyina route is now being repaired but it will take time. For long term strength, we need to repair lines as well as collapsed bridges along the tracks.”
The Ministry of Rail Transport said that some damaged lines, including those connecting Mandalay to Myitkyina and Lashio, Letpadan and Tharawaw in Pegu Division, and Pathein to Hinthada and Rangoon are back in partial service. The line connecting Kale and the Magwe Division town of Gangaw is expected to return to service in the second week of October.
Tin Soe, the general manager of the ministry’s Civil Engineering Department, told state-run media that a proposal for special repair funds had been submitted to the Union government, and the ministry had provided a report on the damage to the World Bank. He said it would take upwards of one and a half years to replace destroyed bridges along some lines.
The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have provided millions of dollars in funds for infrastructure development to Burma since Thein Sein assumed the presidency in 2011.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 117 people died in Burma’s August floods, with a further 1.6 million people displaced across the country.