Heritage Group Opposes Footbridge in Rangoon’s Historic Downtown

By San Yamin Aung 21 May 2014

RANGOON — A group campaigning for the preservation of Rangoon’s architectural heritage has said a footbridge currently under construction in the city’s downtown will be an eyesore in an area filled with century-old historic buildings.

Foundations have already been laid for the pedestrian overpass, which will be built across Strand Road at the corner of Lower Pansodan Street, an area busy with commuters from the nearby terminal for ferries across the Rangoon River.

The Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT), which is headed by historian Thant Myint-U, argues that the bridge will blight views of colonial-era buildings in the area, which are meant to be protected by the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC).

“The footbridge shouldn’t be built at there. It will block and ruin the landscape of neighboring heritage buildings which are on the Rangoon City Heritage List, designated by YCDC,” said Shwe Yinn Mar Oo, senior communications officer at YHT.

Shwe Yinn Mar Oo said the footbridge, which is being built adjacent to the Myanma Port Authority building, will ruin views of the structure—one of Rangoon’s most striking buildings, built in 1928—as well as views of Strand Road from the river.

“We discussed with international experts about the footbridge this month. Experts said it will not make it safer for commuters and will not help traffic problems. So it will not have any effect but to block the beauty of heritage buildings,” she said, adding that instead traffic lights should be set up and road rules should be enforced.

“It is not real solution for traffic problems. They should plan better in future.”

A manager at the footbridge construction site, who requested not to be named, said that work began in early April, and that the foundations were settling. The bridge is expected to be completed in four months time, he said.

“It should be built because over 150, 000 commuters who come every day from Dala, across Rangoon River, are going between the ferry terminal and downtown here where footbridge is being constructed,” he said.

“It will not block or ruin the heritage buildings. I think it will add to the beauty of them.”

Ma Thandar, a mother of two who lives in Dala Township, told The Irrawaddy that she welcomes the foot bridge and hopes it will be completed soon.

“I always take my children to their school in downtown at school-opening time, which starts in early June. That place is congested with trucks, cars, trishaws, and vendors all the time and many accidents happen,” she said.

“If there is a footbridge, we can pass the road safely and traffic problems will be solved.”