Bids invited for upgrade to Yangon – Mandalay highway

The Ministry of Construction is planning to upgrade the Yangon-Mandalay highway to an international standard following a high-profile crash last year.

Though hundreds of accidents take place each year on the expressway, last year on May 12, 2014, a bus left the road and fell off a bridge, killing 12 people and injuring another 29.

The Yangon-Mandalay highway opened in 2009, though experts have said it is missing many of the safety features found on international-standard highways, such as roadside reflectors, warning signs and rumble strips to alert drivers when their vehicles are leaving the road.

Public concern over the highway has grown, particularly following the May 2014 crash. Ministry of Construction officials have routinely said that while transport on the road is not yet perfect, there is a master plan to continue upgrading it and it had been opened early for the public’s use.

“We are trying to make it a perfect expressway,” said U Win Pe, director general of the Road Department under the Ministry of Construction.

“In order to achieve this, we plan to invite tenders for a build-operate-transfer contract.”

U Win Pe said the ministry has so far received 126 applications from local and foreign firms, of which 26 applications are be carefully looked at. However, the structure of the build-operate-transfer contract has not been detailed, as many stages are still being scrutinised.

“It’s hard to say what the contract will look like, but I hope an answer will be coming soon,” he said at a Nay Pyi Taw press conference on May 26.

The master plan calls for the Yangon-Mandalay highway to eventually be upgraded to eight lanes, from its current four. U Kyaw Lin, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Construction, said upgrading the road will help it meet international norms of driving faster and safer while traveling comfortable.

But the frequent use of the highway by cattle, motorcycles and farm vehicles causes cars to break and swerve, which could be alleviated with more lanes. Rest places also need to be placed at 50-mile intervals along the road for comfort of travel, while CCTV cameras and fences are needed near the road for safe driving, according to U Kyaw Lin.

Traffic police say driver negligence, excessive speeds and drunk driving are the main causes of accidents. U Win Pe said Chinese and South Korean companies have also flagged their interest in the tender, along with local companies. He added the government will attempt to keep the toll rates the same.

Source: Myanmar Times

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