Seven firms face fines if ‘Death Highway’ is not repaired on schedule

The seven companies hired to upgrade Myanmar’s notorious “death highway” will be fined if they do not complete their work on schedule, Soe Tint, deputy minister of construction told Parliament yesterday.

The deputy minister also admitted he had seen no evidence that any of the companies, which include some of Myanmar’s largest conglomerates, had started work on upgrading the highway that links Yangon with the country’s second-largest city Mandalay, as well as the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

Almost 400 people have died in accidents on the 587-kilometre Yangon-Mandalay highway since it opened in 2010, with the stretch between Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw accounting for the lion’s share of fatalities.

“Seven companies have been hired to work on the Yangon-Mandalay highway so that people can travel in safety,” the deputy minister said in reply to a question in the lower House from MP Myint Soe. “If they do not finish on schedule they will be liable to fines,” he said, adding that the contracts followed the build-operate-transfer system.

The seven companies contracted to renovate the highway are Shwe Than Lwin Company, Asia World, Max Myanmar, High Star, Yuzana, Thawda Win and Kanbawza. Each one has been given a section of the route, which will see its width expanded to accommodate additional lanes as well as its surface repaired.

Shwe Than Lwin will be responsible for the Bago-Nyaunglaybin section of the highway while Kanbawza Company will take the Zeyawaddy-Yaydashay section. Asia World was given the contract for the Pyinmana-Yamathin section.

Eighteen people died in May when a bus travelling along the highway from Nay Pyi Taw to Yangon plunged over a bridge. The accident refocused national attention on the deadly highway, which even the government admits was constructed hastily and with little regard for quality or safety.


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