Shop owners quarrel over Mingalar market future

Construction of a temporary replacement for Mingalar Market, which was destroyed by a fire on January 9, may be delayed due to disagreement on whether to reconstruct the market or build a new one, shop owners say.

Owners of spaces in the Yangon market disagree about its future, with a division mainly between those whose shops were destroyed on the third and fourth floors, and those whose shops were spared, on the lower floors.

“People are collecting signatures,” said Ma Pan Ei, who sells clothes on the first floor. “Some want a new building, while others want to repair the old one because engineers said the existing building could last for another 100 years,” she said.

U Thein, whose traditional medicine shop on the third floor was destroyed in the blaze, does not want to participate in the debate and is waiting for the government to come up with a plan. “The president has said a new building will be constructed and that every shop will be given 7 square feet [0.65 square metres].” While no official government plan has yet been announced, President U Thein Sein while visiting the market promised the construction of a new, larger building. In the existing market, shop owners each had a space of 5 sq ft.

Only shop owners are involved in the discussions about the building, not renters, according to Ma May Zin Moe, a cosmetics seller. “We plan to move to a temporary place on February 9 if the go-ahead for construction has been given,” she said.

U Thein Sein promised owners compensation of K500,000 to K1 million. Some are afraid of being assigned a different lot in the new building, which may negatively affect their sales. “We need to secure a shop in the same place and on the same floor. If they move our shop from the ground floor to the first floor, we will not make the same amount of money,” said Ma Darli Lin, who sells batik longyi on the ground floor.

Deputy director of the Engineering Department (Building) from Yangon City Development Committee, U Nay Win, believes a new building is needed. “We need a budget for this, which the president has said he will make available. The rebuilding process needs time and we will need to ensure fire safety,” he said. More than 1630 shops were destroyed in the blaze.

Source: Myanmar Times

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