Construction Guidelines Unclear in Coastal Areas

By Moe Myint 20 February 2017

RANGOON – An online survey conducted by a Rangoon-based business initiative found around one dozen three-story buildings in the Ngapali hotel zone, despite Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MOHT) guidelines prohibiting buildings of that height in coastal areas.

Although the buildings violated MOHT height limits, they had official permits from either the General Administration Department (GAD) or the Thandwe City Development Committee (TCDC), according to local ministers.

Arakan State development minister U Min Aung said the township normally issued licenses for two- and three-story buildings but that anything taller was addressed at the state level.
However, it is unclear whether the GAD or the local municipality controls the licenses for the land in question.

According to the survey, CB Bank also built a three-story building on the main road in Ngapali under the previous government. There were no prior complaints that the building violated MOHT guidelines.

Divisional planning and finance minister U Kyaw Aye Thein said TCDC provided construction licenses for applicants whose proposals matched municipal provisions, without regards to MOHT guidelines. He acknowledged that TCDC and the MOHT have distinct terms and conditions.

After construction was completed under municipal licenses, some business owners applied for hotel licenses with the regional tourism minister. In complying with MOHT directives for coastal construction, the minister order that six guesthouses demolish already constructed third floors, according to U Kyaw Aye Thein.

“We could not issue licenses as they clashed with Union-level regulations,” he added.

Myanmar Center for Responsible Business director Vicky Bowman said current MOHT guidelines regarding coastal areas were insufficient to manage the challenges.

She added that having to get two different licenses was a problem and that the government should adopt proper planning and zoning in Ngapali—specifying which areas would permit high-rises and which would only allow two-story buildings.

U Kyaw Aye Thein has instructed township officials to deliver a report regarding the buildings in violation of MOHT guidelines.

Divisional development minister U Min Aung is currently preparing a related draft law to submit to the divisional Parliament.

Former lawmaker Daw Nyo Nyo Thin told The Irrawaddy that if there were a contradiction between national and divisional laws that national law would override divisional provisions. She added that the laws should be simplified so that such discrepancies do not occur and so that the public can easily understand the laws.

Temporarily, the divisional government has formed the Ngapali Beach Supervisory Committee—which includes municipal officials, township administrators, and an association of hotels—in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future.