Take two for Yangon Central tender

Myanma Railways has invited companies to submit expressions of interest (EOI) to redevelop Yangon Central Railway Station and the surrounding area, after an initial tender was cancelled earlier this year, reportedly due to a lack of suitable applications.

“We have invited companies to submit an EOI. After they propose, we will call a tender again,” Myanma Railways general manager U Htun Aung Thin told The Myanmar Times.

The EOI request is aimed at local, international or joint venture developers, and the winner will be expected to take responsibility for all aspects of the project including “designing, engineering, financing, procurement, construction, operation and maintenance”, according to the EOI notice published on August 8 in state-owned newspapers.

The initial EOI was called in April last year. A total of 34 developers and joint venture companies from 12 countries submitted proposals, according to Myanma Railways.

Of these, 28 were shortlisted, but in the end only three companies submitted proposals – one from Taiwan, one from Vietnam and another from Singapore, according to a source close to the tendering process. “The Taiwanese company was chosen, but the negotiations were not successful,” they said.

According to U Htun Aung Thin, “The first time the companies did not meet our criteria, but we can’t say which criteria the companies did not meet, as it is confidential.”

Many applicants including Ooredoo Myanmar, Hongkong Land and Shwe Taung Development said that they chose not to pursue the application further than the EOI stage.

Others shortlisted for the tender last year include foreign firms such as Korea’s Lotte Asset Development, local firms including Ayeyar Hinthar Construction, and joint ventures including a tie-up between Myanmar’s Shwe Than Lwin Group of Companies and Japan’s Azusa Sekkei Company. A full list is available on the Yangon Railway Station website.

Those who decided not to pursue the initial application said there were several issues with the previous tender. Some said the size of the site – almost 63 acres – was too big.

“The whole project was just too large for the likes of any major foreign corporate to get involved given the ‘risk’ of the country and the opportunity itself,” said the Myanmar representative of an international company.

Others added that the ministry did not provide enough guidance and that developers were required to take on too much responsibility, including re-housing government staff and resettling families living along the edge of the track.

The new EOI announcement includes no details about the proposed size of the site. It states that Myanma Railways is committed to developing the area as a “rail concerned business, high-rise building, comprehensive development and transport system also the essential part of Greater Yangon City development [sic]”.

U Tha Htay, chair of the Myanmar Construction Entrepreneur Association, said last week that it may be better to keep high-rise buildings away from the railway station, as it is a heritage building and therefore should be protected.

However, one way to upgrade the area would be to add retail shops nearby, he said, adding that developers working on government land should be careful to be open and transparent, as if they are not they may run into complications later on.

The land is owned by Myanma Railways. The ministry will accept proposals until November 6, 2015.

Source: Myanmar Times

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