RANGOON — Residents of Madae Island in Arakan State have criticized Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), claiming that regional development assistance promised to local communities has been prematurely halted.
The two state-owned enterprises of China and Burma are operating oil and gas pipelines from the Arakan State of Kyaukphyu to China’s Yunnan province. Early this year the companies promised Madae islanders electricity and access to the telecommunications network, a commitment which locals say has now been abandoned.
“They donated money for building a cell tower and installing meter boxes, Tun Kyi, chairman of the Madae Island Development Committee, told The Irrawaddy. “They failed to keep all their promises.”
Arakan State Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohn, along with CNPC and MOGE personnel, together presented locals with a billboard that promised US$420,000 to provide electricity, phone connections and a mobile phone tower for 704 households in the Madae Island villages of Kyauktan, Yawama and Pyeinywa.
Though the tower has been built and phone lines have been installed, not every household has received a meter box, said locals, adding that they have taken their grievances to the Kyaukphyu Township administration and not received a response.
Nyi Nyi Lin, Kyaukphyu Township’s administrator, told The Irrawaddy that more than half of the development assistance to the villages had been completed, and the remaining work had been halted due to a funding shortfall. He said he had been informed that the CNPC would resume work in May.
“40% of the development projects remain because we still have not received money from CNPC,” he said. “We have to seek the funds via MOGE to get the money. They said they would send the money after Thingyan. Once they send the money, we can install meter boxes.”
Nyi Nyi Lin said more than 500 of the houses receiving development assistance had been fitted with meter boxes for electricity connections, and compensation had also been dispensed for villagers whose lands were affected by the construction of the pipelines.
Since work on the pipelines began in 2011, Madae Island villagers have staged a number of demonstrations against the projects, and most of their demands for compensation and infrastructure development remain unfulfilled. Villagers say the project has left a number of locals landless and without employment.