Yangon needs planning laws, say activists

The Association of Myanmar Architects (AMA), Yangon Heritage Trust and partner organisations have sent a letter to President Thein Sein, calling for work to tackle the city’s traffic woes, floods, shortage of parking and population density.

The letter says that Yangon sees unsystematic construction projects due to the lack of urban planning laws. The current bylaws that scrutinise the building standards are out of date, it says, and the city cannot cope with its population density. Floods, traffic jams and lack of parking are daily headaches for residents.

The letter said some townships had 1,000 people per hectare, compared with about 600 in Hong Kong. The subsequent density of buildings meant there was a danger of fire.

The city would face serious challenges in the coming 40 to 50 years if the authorities could not tackle these problems in a systematic manner, the letter said.

New buildings were not taking account of the cultural heritage of Yangon, including the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. The experts called for the suspension of projects near the pagoda and public squares and the outlawing of low-quality building materials.

In addition, they called for the formation of an urban management committee to scrutinise and control projects and the drawing up of planning rules to control construction.

Maw Lin, AMA vice-chairman, said: “The cabinet is aware of the dysfunctional municipal controls in Yangon and seems to have a desire to solve the problems.”


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