JICA, govt to finalise railway upgrade loan

Japan will loan Myanmar US$200 million of the $500 million required to upgrade the Yangon-Mandalay Railway early next year, a Japan International Cooperation Agency official said last week.

While JICA has not committed to financing the remaining $300 million, chief representative Tanaka Masahiko said it was the “first batch” of several payments for the upgrade, which will cut travel time in half from 15 hours.

“The two governments are preparing to sign the agreement and we hope to sign it this fiscal year, maybe in March,” Mr Tanaka said.

“After signing the agreement we will transfer $200 million as a first batch and also transfer the second batch during next year. We [estimate] the upgrading period will take between two and three years and will reduce by half the [journey] time.”

The loans will incur almost no interest and be paid back over 14 years, he added.

Mr Tanaka said Myanmar will be responsible for conducting an “international tender” for the upgrade.

“We will help with technology and the Myanmar government will [conduct an] international tender for fixing the railway, [establishing the] control system and [supplying the] locomotives. I think the Myanmar government should assign a consultant for tendering,” he said.

Myanma Railways has applied for $500 million to upgrade the railway and is hopeful of getting it in early 2014, general manager U Htun Aung said in October.

The 595-kilometre (370-mile) journey between Yangon and Mandalay once took 12 hours but deterioration of the track means it now takes about 15 hours.

Source: Myanmar Times

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