Owners take a gamble on dangerous strategy

Residents of some of Yangon’s older buildings are resorting to potentially dangerous measures in an effort to have their dwellings declared unsafe by Yangon City Development Committee, say developers.

Once the building is declared as unsafe by YCDC a developer can then redevelop the site and exploit a loophole in city planning laws to avoid including a parking space for every unit.

New buildings higher than four storeys have been required since January this year to provide a parking space for every apartment in an effort to ease the city’s growing traffic congestion.

U Lazarus, the managing director of Yadanar Shwe Htun Construction in Botahtaung township, said all YCDC-designated dangerous buildings were suspect.

“Residents are complaining that they lose the ground floor apartments, which are valuable retail spaces, when a building is redeveloped,” he said, referring to redevelopments of non-dangerous buildings.

“The problem is that the policy is unfair – only buildings that are designated as dangerous by YCDC can avoid the parking space requirement. This policy is creating many problems,” U Lazarus said.

He said some residents had taken the dangerous decision to deliberately damage their buildings by knocking down walls or damaging support pillars in a bid to have the site condemned.

“Building regulations, including the provision a parking space for each apartment, should be uniform, regardless of what the former building was,” he said.

U Ko Ko Lay, a director of Three Friends Construction in Mingalar Taung Nyunt township, said his firm was looking to develop projects outside of the downtown area because the parking space requirement was too difficult to manage.

“Instead of looking for developments downtown, our firm is choosing projects in Mayangone, Thingangyun and South Okkalapa townships where we can get larger plots and easily find space for parking lots,” he said.

He said YCDC’s parking space policy hurt tenants in older buildings.

“YCDC shouldn’t squeeze developers by making them put in parking spaces for redevelopments, which is unfair for the people who own apartments in older buildings,” he said.

“Yangon has plenty of areas that could be used to make public parking lots and I think this is the right solution to the problem,” he said.

U Aung Htun, the managing director of Myanmar Top Power Construction in Kyauktada township, said people were making “risky” attempts to have their buildings declared dangerous.

“It’s risky and dishonest to try and damage buildings to have them declared dangerous. And the final decision on the matter rests with YCDC – the inspectors can easily decide that the building is not dangerous,” U Aung Htun said.

However, he said the need to provide a parking space for each apartment had forced his firm to delay projects in the downtown area by at least a year.

U Maung Htun, a 65-year-old Mingalar Taung Nyunt resident, said his building and his neighbour’s on 94th Street were both declared unsafe by YCDC.

He said old age, not deliberate damage, made the buildings dangerous.

“YCDC officials did thorough inspections of our buildings,” he said.

“The building is unsafe because it’s old and falling down. I wouldn’t have dreamed of damaging the building to get it declared dangerous because the responsibility for the building’s condition is mine as the owner.

“And if YCDC found any evidence that we had deliberately damaged the building they would sue us immediately,” U Maung Htun said.

However, U Maung Htun said he had heard that some people were deliberately damaging their buildings.

Source: Myanmar Times

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