UK, Japan help in Myanmar’s urban planning

YANGON – Both seek greater involvement in infrastructure investment

The United Kingdom and the Japan International Cooperation Agency have agreed to cooperate in an urban development planning project targeting Mandalay, Pathein of Ayeyarwaddy region and Mawlamyaing of Mon state.

The six-month data collection survey of the regional cities started in January.

The team consists of nine Japanese experts and one consultant from the UK who will work together with locals and government agencies.

“We are now reviewing policies, plans and the current conditions of the three cities.

“After the project, we aim to propose development visions, spatial and structure plans and a roadmap of priorities,” Kuniomi Hirano, representative of Nippon Koei Co, which has been involved in four development planning projects in Myanmar, said last week.

These cities were singled out for their economic potential, especially in tourism, he said.

Yangon is the biggest city in Myanmar with 7 million people, according to the 2014 national census.

According to the World Bank’s report on “East Asia’s Changing Urban Landscape: Measuring a decade of spatial growth”, Yangon’s population grew much faster than its urbanised area, at 2.6 per cent a year from 2.6 million people in 2000 to 3.4 million in 2010, against limited capacity to deal with associated problems like traffic congestion and sewage systems.

The collaboration of the UK and Japan followed the UK’s commitment to finance trade and infrastructure investment in Myanmar to the tune of US$300 million (Bt10.5 trillion).

British Ambassador Andrew Patrick said the UK plans to invest in massive projects, including roads and power.

British firms have a great deal of expertise in urban planning and are enthusiastic about sharing their experience with Myanmar, he said.

They are also very keen on working with the Japanese to support democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

“Infrastructure is one of the key pillars of the economy and democracy. Without infrastructure, the country will not grow and as a result, democracy will not grow,” he said.

Jica has been involved with several development projects in Myanmar in the past five years.

Keiichiro Nakazawa, chief representative of Jica’s Myanmar office, said urban planning was an extra project.

Whether it would be implemented and whether JICA would be part of the implementation depend on the new government.

This would entail huge investment. Road construction alone could demand about 160 billion kyat, he said.

both Japan and the UK are ready to conduct studies in other cities, asked by the new government.

“We are doing our best to help Myanmar people to be prosperous and socially vibrant,” he said.

Besides the 200-billion-kyat grant, JICA last year committed to a 1-trillion-kyat concessional loan, but it was not yet disbursed, he said.

Discussions with the new government are necessary for setting Jica’s new plans. Jica plans to finance more than 60 development projects in Myanmar, he said.

Financing is the biggest challenge for Myanmar’s development.

However, the capacity development of institutions that are managing the operations and maintenance of infrastructure is another key issue that Myanmar needs to address urgently.

“Without proper maintenance and without enough capacity to implement massive projects, improved infrastructure will not be sustained.

“So, the capacity development of institutions as well as human resources is very important,” he added.

 

Source: Eleven Myanmar

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