Lawmakers Rebuke Construction Ministry Over Handling of Road Contracts
By Htet Naing Zaw 7 August 2018
NAYPYITAW — The Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday passed a proposal to urge the government to keep companies true to their contracts after accusing the Construction Ministry of failing to adequately monitor firms it hires to build and maintain roads using the BOT — build, operate, transfer — system.
Though the companies collect the agreed tolls from road users, they fail to properly maintain the roads and the ministry is negligent in regulating them, lawmakers said.
“The stance of the focal ministry responsible for BOT contracts is questionable,” Daw Yin Min Hlaing, a lawmaker representing Magwe Region’s Gangaw Township, told the Lower House.
She called the terms and conditions of the contract between the Ministry of Construction and Zaykabar Co. Ltd. for the construction of the road between Yangon Region’s Hlaing Tharyar Township and Irrawaddy Region’s Dedaye Township “unbelievable.”
“If it is impossible to carry out certain works according to the contract, terms and conditions can be changed as necessary,” she quoted from the contract.
“Standards are not something that can be adjusted. We are quite taken aback by it,” said Daw Yin Min Hlaing.
Lawmaker U Sai Kyaw Aung, of Shan State’s Kyeethe Township, also complained that the road between Hopong and Taunggyi townships is in bad condition despite all small vehicles being charged 3,000 kyats ($2.05) to travel the route.
Many fatal traffic accidents could be avoided in southern Shan State if the roads were wide enough and the Ministry of Construction carefully monitored the private companies, he added.
“Only road sections close to the toll gates are broadened, and repair work carried out on dangerous roads along the mountains is quite disappointing,” said U Sai Kyaw Aung, a lawmaker from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD).
The BOT system was first introduced to Myanmar in 1996, according to the the Ministry of Construction.
Diamond Palace Co. and Asia World Co. were the first to operate using the BOT system when they constructed the Mandalay-Lashio-Muse-Namkham road in 1996 under the military regime of the time, it said.
More than 4,800 kilometers of road have been built and maintained using the BOT system, it added.
Between 2006 and 2016, the ministry cancelled contracts with 23 companies for upgrading 32 road sections for their failure to comply with contracts.
But according to the Myanmar Investment Law, Chapter 14, Section 52, the Construction Ministry cannot take direct action against companies if they complete their work within the scheduled timeframe.
Deputy Construction Minister U Kyaw Lin said his ministry would redesign rules and regulations regarding the BOT system and sign new BOT contracts with private companies.
Seventeen lawmakers, including some from the ruling National League for Democracy, Arakan National Party, SNLD and military representatives debated the proposal, but the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party shunned the debate.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.