The Irrawaddy

Rangoon Drafting Master Plan for Controversial Projects in Mya Kyun Tha

RANGOON — City officials are now drafting a master plan for multiple suspended construction projects on the site of a public garden occupying a peninsula in Rangoon’s Inya Lake.

Four companies—Magic Land (which leased 13.864 acres), Nayla Pwint (2.686 acres), Ryu Ji (1.377 acres) and Mandalay Golden Wing (1.83 acres)—had been constructing projects of up to 3.5 stories high that included a shopping mall, an amusement arcade, a health club and a playground.

The projects were located in the 45-acre Mya Kyun Tha garden, protruding into the eastern shores of Rangoon’s famous lake, near the Sedona Hotel and the upscale Myanmar Plaza shopping mall along Kabar Aye Pagoda Road.

These initiatives were halted by the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), Rangoon’s municipal authority, in October of last year. An investigation was ordered after the projects attracted criticism from the public, the media and urban planners following accusations that they were a misuse of public space intended for general recreation.

A total of eight companies received approval for such projects under the previous government in 2013; the other four—Edin, Good Shan Brothers, Myanmar Golden Star and Max Myanmar—have not yet started their projects in the garden.

Construction project for amusement arcades by private companies is pictured underway at Mya Kyun Tha garden in 2016. (Photo: Myo Min Soe)

Rangoon’s Mayor U Maung Maung Soe said on Monday at the divisional parliament that the YCDC had been preparing the master plan for the area according to the Rangoon divisional government’s meeting on the issue in January this year.

“We need to make it right. Every construction has to be at least 30 feet away from the retaining wall [of the lake]. Some have already breached it. So they have to demolish [what they have built]. We will review the buildings’ heights as well,” he said.

“For the companies that haven’t started construction, they will have to follow the master plan. If they can’t, they will have to give up [their lease on] the land,” the mayor added.

According to a contract between one of the companies and the YCDC, viewed by The Irrawaddy, the land was leased to the company in question for 45 years—with the option of three subsequent five-year extensions—with a monthly rent of 1,000,000 kyats (US$800) per acre. This is well below standard commercial rents for the area, where half an acre of land can fetch up to 5,000,000 kyats (US$4,000) a month in rent, according to real estate agents.

The report from the auditor general’s office for Rangoon Division for the 2015-2016 fiscal year shows that the government loses 21.629 billion kyats every year from leasing land to companies at rates well below standard commercial rents.

On Monday, the mayor did not mention whether the current government would raise the rent prices.

“The master plan has to be right, rather than being prepared in haste. What happened there was a mistake. We need to make sure not to repeat it,” U Maung Maung Soe said of the Mya Kyun Tha garden.