Italian Sister City Advises Rangoon on Transport Reform

By Tin Htet Paing 10 February 2017

RANGOON — Authorities from the Italian city of Turin have urged the Rangoon government to implement a mechanism to better engage the public in developing an efficient urban transportation system and reducing traffic in Burma’s commercial capital.

After their five-day visit to Rangoon, the delegation group from Turin—a sister city of Rangoon—noted on Friday that Rangoon’s transport challenges are much bigger than European cities. They stressed the importance of involving citizens in urban transport planning in Rangoon, a city with more than five million people.

Vice Mayor of Turin, Guido Montanari, and Prof. Cristina Pronello, president of the city’s metropolitan mobility agency, led the delegation.

Referring to Rangoon’s recently reformed bus system, Pronello said at a press conference that the Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA) needs a better approach to identifying requirements and constraints in order to raise public voices to those who can intervene and address challenges in providing efficient urban mobility services to the public.

“Our suggestion is to try to establish some technical committees inside the transport authority which can bridge dialogues between citizens and the top level decision-makers,” she said.

She also said that she recommended that Rangoon’s minister for electricity, industry, and transportation adapt a GPS-based Italian mobile application which commuters would be able to use to submit recommendations and complaints to the authority body. The authority body would also be able to collect data and information directly from the users of the application, she added.

The Turin Municipality and the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) are collaborating in a project called the Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning Project (SUMP), funded by the European Union since early 2015 to improve Rangoon’s strategic urban planning.

The group said the SUMP project has been in place in two of Rangoon’s townships, Thingangyun and Tamwe. The deputy head of the YCDC’s urban planning and land management department, U Toe Aung, said that the pilot project focuses on public collaboration and studies the needs of the city’s residents in the designated townships.

“Even if it’s just a pilot project, we hope it could set a good example for the whole region of Rangoon,” U Toe Aung said.

It would also provide fundamental information to support the larger process of urban transportation reform in the city, he added.

Turin Vice Mayor Guido Montanari said that the SUMP project would help improve the technical capacities of the YCDC officials to improve strategic planning and encourage community participation.

“I hope that with our experience in Europe, and in Turin particularly, we can help…[Rangoon] and [its] authorities to invest in better management for the city,” he said.