The Irrawaddy

Rakhine Gov’t Blames Misunderstanding for Complaints Over Waterside Project

The undeveloped project area.

Sittwe—Following complaints from people who bought land at a new waterfront city project west of Rakhine State’s capital Sittwe, the state government said that its project partner, BXT Co, had sold the plots without its permission because it did not understand the procedures.

“The company doesn’t understand the procedures. So, it has sold land plots to the public without the permission of the government. In fact, it is not authorized to sell land,” State Agriculture Minister U Kyaw Lwin told The Irrawaddy.

The project is a joint venture between Rakhine State government and Korea-based BXT to reclaim land on the western bank of the town and establish a new waterfront city.

After the land reclamation work was completed, and Rakhine State Transportation Minister U Aung Kyaw Zan and BXT officials held a press conference to publicize the project in Yangon on Dec. 28, the company started selling land plots on Jan. 6.

BXT sold the land at a price of 500,000 to 600,000 kyats per square feet of land with buyers also being asked to put down a deposit of one million kyats. The company handed over only receipts for payment but no other documents, said the buyers.

More than one month passed with no construction work being done on the site. Then on Feb. 13, the company informed the buyers they were required to pay 30 percent of the price of the plots in cash, which raised their suspicions.

“I bought the land because the government is involved in the project. [The company] said we will get a grant [for the land] and will build this and that. So, I bought it. But so far, they have done nothing,” said physician U Maung Maung Than of Sittwe People’s Hospital.

“The company showed us the design of the project and sold us land plots. And they asked us to pay 30 percent of the price while nothing has been done. So, we reported it to the chief minister and he said that the government didn’t know about the sale of the land,” said U Hla Maung Thein who also bought a land plot.

On Feb. 14, the government instructed BXT to stop selling land plots.

The project was launched in March 2016 on 90 acres of land as a 30-70 joint venture between the state government and BXT.