Friday, September 22, 2017

Farmers sign over land for Southwest New City

The tender awards for the Yangon Southwest New City project were awarded earlier this month, and local famers have signed over their land to developers, according to an official at one of the chosen firms.

Some 54 applicants initially signalled interest in the project, though only three applied by the December deadline. Those same three companies – Yangon South West Development Public Company, Business Capital City Development and Shwe Popa International Construction Company – were awarded the tender this month, according to U Tin Sein, spokesperson for Yangon South West, member of Yangon Southwest New City Development Committee and a local villager.

The Southwest New City is one of seven envisioned in the Yangon 2040 plan. The seven “new cities” are satellite towns on Yangon city’s edges, and are aimed to assist with housing an estimated 10 million people in Yangon by 2040.

The development site for Southwest New City is same as that of the infamous New City project, which was the subject of a surprise announcement by Yangon Mayor U Hla Myint in regional parliament, though later suspended after a public outcry.

The tender for the subsequent Southwest New City, which was announced in July 2015, also came under fire from locals.

Representatives from the three companies chosen for Yangon Southwest New City met U Myint Swe, chief minister of Yangon region, yesterday to submit their combined proposals for developing the project, U Tin Sein told The Myanmar Times. Discussions included negotiations with local villagers over land use, he added.

U Myint Swe will decide on how best to distribute tasks among the three firms, although U Tin Sein was confident that Yangon South West Development Public Company would be leading the project. His firm was established by local developers, and already had detailed knowledge of the project, he said.

“We are cooperating [with the other companies] but our firm has more understanding of the locals,” he said. “We can give suggestions for development and negotiate with villagers better, that’s why we’ll lead this project and the other two companies agreed,” he said.

The firms will start work as soon as they have permission from the minister, he said.

The developers have held negotiation with local villagers and farmers, and received locals’ signatures yesterday. The farmers have signed over their land, which is mostly paddy fields, to the developers. In return, they will receive a new area of land equal to 20 percent of the land they signed over and an apartment.

U Tin Sein said the developers had initially planned to provide farmers with a new plot equal to 15pc of their land. But the government had decided this was no enough. There will be no monetary compensation for farmers, although they will be able to use their new land as they wish and are free to sell their new apartments.

Despite criticism of the project, local villagers seem to be eager for it get under way.

“We villagers really want the planned city to be built,” said U Khin Aye, a villager in Tamangyi village. “We were hoping for news of the tender and hope the project will implement soon.”

The property market in his area was stable, he added, although the number of potential buyers coming to look at the area had tailed off in the recent months.

Yangon South West is borrowing from a Singaporean bank to help fund its investment in the project, he said. An official from the firm told The Myanmar Times in December that Yangon South West could claim an improbably high US$15 billion in capital, though did not detail the source of the money.

Business Capital City Development last year claimed it would use loans from local and international banks as well as selling shares to obtain investment. They will also use directors’ capital, a company official said in December.

Shwe Popa – a branch of domestic conglomerate Shwe Thanlwin – claimed it will put together about K500 billion in capital for the project. It will rely on a mix of international and local loans for the project, said U Thet Naing, the company’s chief engineer.