House Speaker Rebukes Ministry for Poor Oversight of Road Contracts

By Htet Naing Zaw 30 January 2018

NAYPYITAW — Lower House Speaker U Win Myint on Monday accused the Construction Ministry of failing to carefully monitor construction companies that have won tenders for state-funded road projects, saying that “public funds are being wasted” as a result.

The speaker made the remarks in response to lawmaker U Min Min, of Bago Region’s Paungde Township, who complained that a tarred road in his constituency had become badly damaged before the service life guaranteed by the construction company had expired.

Deputy Construction Minister U Kyaw Linn replied that the road would be repaired depending on the 2018-19 fiscal year budget.

U Win Myint argued that blacklisting a construction company for poor service has no impact because the company can change its name and pass itself off as a new entity.

“But it costs public funds. If construction companies aren’t handled properly, roads will get damaged frequently and we’ll have to ask for funds time and again to repair the road. In the end, public funds are being wasted,” he said.

“The ministry that grants contracts to construction companies is responsible for damaged roads,” the speaker added, urging the Construction Ministry to take strong action against such companies in line with the law.

“Our ministry has issued rules and regulations since April. Those rules and regulations must be followed to the letter,” said U Kyaw Linn.

According to the deputy construction minister, companies must provide compensation if a road is damaged within two to three years, depending on the type of road.

The company that built the road in Paungde, which became damaged after about 18 months, had provided a two-year guarantee. However, the company has refused to take responsibility because authorities only made a field inspection of the road after the two years were up, said Naypyitaw-based developer U Nay Tha.

“Authorities should be informed in time about road conditions. But they were informed only after the road was badly damaged. The company refused to take responsibility and government funds have to be spent again,” he said.

The Construction Ministry received 20.4 percent of the total 2017-18 fiscal year budget.

On Monday the Lower House also approved discussion of a proposal from lawmaker Daw Nan Kham Aye, of Shan State’s Namtu Township, that urges the union and regional governments to adopt tender procedures for government-funded projects.

The lawmaker claimed that there was nepotism and corruption in the tender selection process, hindering fair competition among bidders.

“Only those who are close to them [relevant government officials] know the lowest and highest base prices tendered, so there is corruption. Departments are manipulating the prices,” Daw Nan Kham Aye told reporters.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.