Deputy Minister Tells Tycoon to Finish Yangon Road Project by May or Lose Concession

By San Yamin Aung 29 January 2018

YANGON — Myanmar tycoon U Khin Shwe’s Zaykabar company will have its contract terminated if it fails to complete the Kawhmu-Kungyangon-Dedaye road project by May, Deputy Construction Minister U Kyaw Lin warned on Friday. The road connects townships on Yangon’s outskirts.

Speaking in the Upper House, the deputy minister said the ministry has already warned the company that it must complete the section of road by the end of May, before the rainy season starts. He was replying to a question from Upper House lawmaker U Kyaw Htwe regarding the non-compliance provision in the company’s agreement with the ministry.

“If the company is unable to complete the work in time, it will face termination of its contract,” the deputy minister said.

Zaykabar has been building the Hlaingtharyar-Dala-Twante-Kawhmu-Kungyangon-Dedaye road connecting the rural outskirts of Yangon since the early 2010s.

U Khin Shwe was himself once a member of the Upper House representing Kawhmu Township for the former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The construction tycoon used to tell his constituents that he spent his own funds on infrastructure development for the constituency.

Kawhmu is the constituency in which State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to the Lower House in the 2012 by-election and the 2015 general election. In 2015, U Khin Shwe lost his Upper House seat to a National League for Democracy candidate.

The deputy minister said the company had been granted a contract to construct nearly 55 miles of road on the Hlaingtharyar-Dala-Twante-Kawhmu-Kungyangon-Dedaye route by the Ministry of Construction’s Department of Roads under the previous government.

He said an agreement was signed on Oct. 8, 2013. Of the 55-mile stretch, the company has completed about 41.5 miles, with the nearly 13.5-mile Kawhmu-Kungyangon-Dedaye section still to be built.

The company still has to lay down a 24-foot-wide asphalt-concrete stretch along the 5.5-mile Kawhmu-Kungyangon section, widen seven bridges and lay an 18-foot-wide additional layer of asphalt along the 8-mile-long Kungyangon-Dedaye section.

U Khin Shwe told The Irrawaddy that the work had been delayed because the Ministry of Construction had yet to permit the collection of road tolls on that section.

He claimed he had already spent over 15 billion kyats on the project, and the remaining section would require another 4 billion kyats.

He said that he and the ministry had agreed that he would finish by December 2018, and that the ministry would issue the company a permit to collect road tolls.

Responding to the minister’s warning, he said: “It’s not official. I never heard that, and they cannot enforce that,” he said.

He said he had not received any notice from the Ministry of Construction that the company would have its concession terminated if the work was not complete by May.

He said he had also sent a letter to the Parliament speaker asking him to withdraw lawmaker U Kyaw Htwe’s question from the parliamentary record, saying it defamed him and his company.