Rangoon Govt Orders Safety Modifications to High-Rise Buildings Under Construction

By Kyaw Hsu Mon & Kyaw Phyo Tha 14 July 2016

RANGOON — Despite complaints from developers, a review committee for the construction of high-rise buildings has ordered safety modifications to 12 structures, stating that failure to follow Rangoon’s updated urban planning standards could cause harm to the city and its residents.

This week the Rangoon divisional government ordered the developers of the buildings to reduce the height of their projects, adhere to original car park designs, and improve safety on-site.

The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) has ordered the suspended construction of a total of more than 200 high-rise buildings—classified as structures with at least nine stories—since May. In June, they formed a 13-member committee, largely made up of architects and engineers, who started their work by reviewing and inspecting the 12 high-rise projects in question, which range in height from just over 12 to 29 stories.

They submitted their findings and recommendations to the regional government earlier this month. Another 185 buildings are currently being reviewed.

Ye Min Oo, the review committee’s spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy that many of the buildings currently under construction or slated for future construction are not in line with Rangoon’s urban planning standards.

“We understand that developers were hurt to some extent by the review. We took every step [of the] review very carefully and seriously, as the chief minister told us that a loss for the developers is the country’s loss, because they are our nationals,” he said on Thursday.

But, Ye Min Oo said, during the review process, the committee found that some buildings had not followed the original proposed designs, and could therefore be dangerous or simply problematic.

“We found out that there were not enough car parking spaces. [Another] one of the 20-story buildings has a 3-foot-wide strip of land adjoining it. In the case of a fire, this could be a problem,” he pointed out as examples.

Nyan Myat Min’s ongoing 29-story Kabaraye Executive Residence on Kabaraye Pagoda Road was one of the 12 buildings under review and ordered to be modified. The director of Living Square Construction—the developer responsible—said that they have been told to halt the construction of the building at its current height of 18 stories.

“They said we need to resubmit car parking [plans], but we have set car parking for 245 vehicles, which is more than the requirement of 220 cars,” he said.

“We’ve been following the rules [set] by the YCDC. We had to wait at least three years to get permission. Now it’s really harming us,” he added.

“All of our structures, drawings and everything has been approved by technicians as well as by the members of CQHP [Committee for Quality Control of High-Rise Building Projects],” Nyan Myat Min said. “We’ve not been told by the YCDC about the road-to-building ratio since then, so now, when they change it, it’s really a shock for us,” he said.

Ye Min Oo said the committee’s process is quite transparent—even the president of the Construction Entrepreneurs Association is among the committee members, and recommendations were submitted after approval from all members.

“We know the developers followed the rules. But they are no longer in line with urban planning standards today. That’s why the committee is reviewing the buildings—to make Rangoon a beautiful, safe, sustainable urban system,” he explained, outlining the high-rise review committee’s goals.

The 12 high-rise construction projects in question involve buildings with 12.5, 18, 19, 23, 27 and 29 stories, respectively. The investigation into these buildings extends to Kyeemindaing, Ahlone, Botahtaung, Bahan, Tamwe, Hlaing, Insein, Mayangone and Yankin townships.

According to the YCDC, the previous Rangoon divisional government and municipal council had given “initial approval” for proposals to more than 200 high rise buildings from 2013 until March 31 of this year.