Plans Announced for SEZ and New Airport Terminal in Southern Rangoon

By Moe Myint 27 December 2016

RANGOON – A Rangoon regional minister explained in Tuesday’s parliamentary session plans to develop an area across four townships for a special economic zone and a new airport terminal.

According to the statement by Daw Nilar Kyaw—the divisional minister for electricity, industry and transportation—Kwan Chan Gone, Letkokkon, Kawhmu and Dala townships are listed as hosting the initiative.

She did not specify whether the airport terminal would be designated for domestic or international travel. The airfield would be the third such venture in the region. The government already announced successful tender bidders for Hanthawaddy International Airport in Bago Division, for which construction will begin in early 2017 on 9,500 acres of land at a cost of US$2 billion.

Daw Nilar Kyaw unveiled the cabinet’s conceptual plan in response to a question put forward by U Than Naing Oo, a representative for Panbedan Constituency (1). The MP had asked whether the government had a plan to promote the agriculture and livestock sectors, as well as small and medium industrial businesses, in the southern district’s townships of Dala and Letkokkon.

U Than Naing Oo highlighted poverty as the reason many people cross the Rangoon River in search of work downtown selling food on the street. By promoting enterprise in regions such as Dala, the parliamentarian argued, the overcrowding of street vendors will subsequently be alleviated in downtown Rangoon.

The city expansion project in Rangoon’s southern district was originally introduced under the previous divisional chief minister, U Myint Swe, who is now serving as the military-appointed vice president of the country. The project was widely criticized for favoring the dominance of Chinese-backed conglomerates, as well as for lacking transparency. While it remains unclear if the conglomerates will continue to play a role, current Rangoon chief minister U Phyo Min Thein is reviewing the expansion project, promising greater transparency and assurances that it will not be monopolized by only one firm.

Daw Nilar Kyaw said the government was discussing the initiative with international consortiums and that talks would conclude in January 2017. The regional government will deliver its master plan to the Rangoon parliament in March.

The Irrawaddy spoke to regional lawmaker Daw Kyi Pyar after the parliamentary session and she said that U Phyo Min Thein had promised in a recent National League for Democracy meeting not to make decisions on the project unilaterally, but to emphasize the state’s interest, pointing out that he may consult Burma’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on the issue.