Traders resist gem trading centre move

Gem traders are opposing plans to move the country’s largest gem market out of downtown Mandalay as the regional hluttaw mulls a proposal made by the city’s mayor to relocate to the city’s outskirts.

Mayor U Aung Maung said he wants to start constructing a new trading centre, called the Jade Garden, at the intersection of the Yangon-Mandalay Highway and Sagaing-Myitnge Road because the existing Mahar Aung Myay market near downtown Mandalay is too crowded and sprawling.

He added that the local jade and gem industry will look more like an internationally recognised market after the move.

According to a report in the state-run newspaper Yadanarpone on December 13, the Jade Garden would be as much a tourism destination as a wholesale centre, and would include a jade museum, space for retail outlets and small vendors, car parking, restaurants, an auction room, training schools, apartments, a hospital, a market and a hotel.

But the minister’s proposal has made traders anxious.

“We don’t want to relocate because the new place is too far. It is done without asking approval from a majority of dealers. So we can’t accept it anymore. If they act in a dictatorial way and force us to move, there will be a face-off,” gem trader U Thein Aung Myint told The Myanmar Times.

U Than Win, the owner of Pwint Kaung gem shop, said many traders would rather see the current downtown market upgraded.

“We will submit a letter about upgrading to the regional government. We’ve already prepared the ground for the upgrade with an establishment of a committee consisting of 71 members from every sector of the gem industry,” he said.

Traders say they have arranged an appointment with U Aung Maun and, if he doesn’t talk to them, they will take to the streets in protest and gather signatures for a petition to the hluttaw.

“We will submit our objection to the parliament,” one gem trader, Ko Kyaw Zaw said.
Mahar Aung Myay gem trading centre has a total of 1117 shops.


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