Mayangone Wins Rangoon’s ‘Cleanest Township Award’

By San Yamin Aung 7 January 2015

RANGOON — The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) has bestowed its first-ever award for the city’s most sanitary township to Mayangone Township, in an effort to clean up the commercial capital and incentivize municipal staff performance.

YCDC, the municipal body that oversees management of Burma’s biggest city, on Wednesday gave the “Cleanest Township Award,” which comes with a cash prize of 2.5 million kyats (US$2,500), to Mayangone in Rangoon’s Northern District. Mayangone was among 33 townships in the municipal jurisdiction that were vying for the award.

“It is a good competition,” Khin Maung Tint, the Northern District’s newly elected YCDC representative, told The Irrawaddy. “If each township competes effectively, it will result in the city cleaning up and will also be better for health.”

YCDC evaluated Rangoon’s townships based on 30 criteria, including performance in waste management, water sanitation, drainage, handling of rubbish bins and staff members’ obedience, in crowning the winner.

One township from each of Rangoon’s other three districts—Yankin from Southern District, Dagon Seikkan in Eastern District and Dagon from Western District—also received runners-up awards for cleanliness, which came with a cash prize of 500,000 kyats, during an award ceremony at City Hall on Wednesday.

“We gave these awards to improve the waste collection process, encourage staff to be more active in carrying out their duties and increase public cooperation in making the city clean up by competing with each other,” Rangoon Mayor Hla Myint, who heads YCDC, said at the awards ceremony.

He said the prize would be awarded every three months.

“I represent all staff members in our township. We have received this award because all of us together made great efforts,” said Tin Myo Htwe, officer-in-charge from the Mayangone Township office responsible for sanitation matters, adding that the monetary prize would be distributed among township staffers.

Raining on the winning township’s parade, however, was local Mayangone resident Thein Zaw, who said he saw no significant improvement in his jurisdiction’s cleanliness, despite the YCDC award bestowed upon it.

“I think our township won because the other townships are worse than us,” he said.

Thein Zaw said other circumstances in the township had likely helped Mayangone to win the award, citing relatively low-rise architecture that resulted in less crowding and attendant garbage in alleyways; local residents’ greater sense of hygiene—prompted by YCDC’s own sanitation management failings, he claimed; and the fact that senior government officials’ motorcades frequently passed through the area on the way to and from Rangoon International Airport.

Issues like the city’s water supply and garbage pick-up featured prominently in last month’s YCDC municipal elections, with candidates promising to focus on deficiencies in services’ provision if elected. The former capital’s 5 million residents have long lived in an urban environment far removed from the likes of neighboring sanitary stalwarts such as Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.

In a report by The Irrawaddy in 2013, residents cited everything from a lack of readily available rubbish bins to the prevailing attitude of city-dwellers, with one resident joking: “If you don’t dare to urinate on the roadside, people here know that you are not a Rangoon resident.”