Municipality, Power Supplier Trade Blame Over Rangoon Water Shortages

By Bone Myat 2 April 2015

RANGOON — Rangoon municipal authority and the city’s main electricity supplier have been trading blame over who is responsible for growing water shortages in Burma’s biggest city.

Residents of Rangoon’s eastern townships of Tamwe, Pazundaung, Botathaung, Sanchaung and Mingalar Taung Nyunt have suffered from frequent water supply problems since the beginning of March, sometimes for several days on end, while temperatures have been rising as hot season approach.

An official at the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) said water reservoirs at Yegu are full and can supply the townships, but this has not happened properly due to a lack of steady electricity supply by the Yangon Electricity Supply Board (YESB).

“Mainly, we supply water from water tanks using water pumps. But now, the water pump in Yegu is out of commission because there is no sufficient electricity supply. It can’t operate because of low-voltage electricity,” said the official of YCDC’s water and sanitation division, who declined to be named.

“It is concerned with [YESB]. Water pumps won’t work if they don’t supply sufficient electricity. But now, we are only operating while there is sufficient electricity,” he said.

YESB Chairman Aung Khaing said the board had taken measures to ensure that the pumps at Yegu could be operated at all times. “Electricity consumption is very high in summer. We have installed voltage amplifiers for water pumps. But now, YCDC is passing the buck to us,” he said.

The hot season often sees rolling power outages in Burma’s commercial capital as demand soars while power supply from hydropower dams drops due to falling water levels.

Some residents complained that authorities had done little to address the water shortages in their neighborhood.

“We always face this problem in summer and the division government can’t solve this. If they can’t even supply water, which is a basic need of people, why are they holding a position of power?” said a Sanchaung Township resident, who declined to be named.

“The division chief minister and municipal officials should resign. They didn’t formally inform us that they would not be able to supply water. They are doing just as they please,” he said.