Sunday, August 20, 2017

High-rise suspension drags on

Developers desperate to restart suspended high-rise projects in Yangon remain in limbo as a government review drags on. Members of the Yangon Region government committee tasked with conducting a final inspection on 64 buildings say they are still awaiting reports on the first 12, and will not continue inspections until those reports are in.

Workers stand in one of the suspended high-rise buildings in Yangon. Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw / The Myanmar TimesWorkers stand in one of the suspended high-rise buildings in Yangon. Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw / The Myanmar Times

The construction industry received a brief ray of hope on June 16, when Yangon Region’s Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein told a parliament session that the review would be finished within a week.

The recently formed inspection committee sent four teams to conduct on-site inspections of the first 12 buildings on June 21.

But since then progress has slowed to halt. Although those 12 building have been inspected, the teams have not submitted all their reports, said Daw Hlaing Maw Oo, a member of the inspection committee and secretary of Yangon City Development Committee.

Construction sector officials have complained that the suspension is damaging the industry. Local workers have seen wages cut or replaced by oil and rice, developers are concerned about whether they can keep paying expat experts, and some have voiced concerns about whether the review could scare away foreign investors.

But the committee will only proceed with more inspections once the first 12 reports have been finished, and only once all 64 buildings have been inspected will the committee start re-issuing permits to the developers, said Daw Hlaing Maw Oo.

Each team must submit a report for each building it inspects. Daw Hlaing Maw Oo said it was likely – but not guaranteed – that the first 12 reports would be received before the end of this week.

The reports cover many aspects of construction, from regulatory compliance to the opinion of local residents. This could be one reason why the reports are taking a long time, Daw Hlaing Maw Oo added.

A spokesperson for YCDCs Department of Engineering said that there were no further inspections scheduled, that scheduling was up to the committee and that it was important for the review to continue.

U Aung Myint, chair of the Myanmar Engineering Society (MES) and also a member of the inspection committee, said he had not received any information from the committee leader about a second set of inspections.

“There’s no information,” he told The Myanmar Times. “But I think the committee will inspect the remaining projects as soon as possible because the chief minister instructed [the committee] to finish soon.”

The inspection committee is chaired by Daw Nilar Kyaw, Yangon Region minister for electricity, industry and transportation, who could not be reached for comment.

Construction on high-rise buildings taller than nine storeys was suspended across Yangon Region on May 15 while the incoming regional government examined whether the projects complied with Yangon development plans.

The 64 now inspected by the committee are those that had already received an official construction permit, while some 120 other projects that had not received an official permit area also under suspension.