RANGOON — Multiple construction projects on the site of a public garden occupying a peninsula in Rangoon’s Inya Lake were suspended on Monday by city officials, and will undergo an investigation.
The projects have faced criticism from the public, the media and urban planners, for misusing public space intended for general recreation, and have faced scrutiny for what appeared to be overly favorable terms offered to the private developers by the previous government.
Eight companies have been constructing projects of up to 3.5 stories that include a shopping mall, an amusement arcade, a health club and a playground, located over the 45-acre Mya Kyun Tha garden, protruding into the eastern length of Rangoon’s famous lake, close to the Sedona Hotel and the upscale Myanmar Plaza shopping mall along Kabar Aye Pagoda Road.
The projects received the approval of the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), Rangoon’s municipal authority, during the time of the previous government in 2013.
Developers must now await the approval of a review committee set up on Tuesday, charged with investigating whether the contractual agreements and YCDC’s rules and regulations are being followed, YCDC secretary Daw Hlaing Maw Oo told The Irrawaddy.
“We have suspended them because there is lot of criticism. The projects can’t be resumed until our approval,” said Daw Hlaing Maw Oo, who is heading the review committee made up of YCDC department heads.
According to a contract between one of the companies and the YCDC, viewed by The Irrawaddy, the land was leased to the company 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.
In June, the issue was raised at the Rangoon Division parliament, where a proposal was made to end public-private partnerships between the YCDC and private companies under which public land is leased to build shopping malls, high-rise condominiums and other commercial developments.
The proposal was approved by the divisional parliament, after which Rangoon Mayor U Maung Maung Soe pledged to see a resolution to the problem, and defend the city’s public spaces against future encroachment.