Thursday, September 21, 2017

A new department to be formed under Ministry of Construction

The government will establish a new agency called the Department of Rural Development, under the Ministry of Construction (MOC), to implement road construction projects, a senior construction ministry official said Wednesday.

Previously, road construction is being implemented by both the MOC and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI), according to Ministry of Construction Permanent Secretary U Win Myint.

He said the newly-established Department of Rural Development will be the sole agency that will handle road construction in the country.

“As it becomes necessary to put all road (including bridges) construction under one umbrella of a single ministry, that department was transferred to MOC for the ministry to lead,” he said.

“Therefore, all roads from rural roads connecting villages, townships and districts to Union level roads excluding City Development Committee roads will be undertaken by MOC alone,” he added.

The new agency will be administered by 3000 staff, but it will start operating with an initial 1500 staff.

All the 585 old staff from previous Department of Rural Development under MOALI together with 100 veteran engineers from Department of Bridges and Department of Road will be transferred to that new department under MOC, U Win Myint said.

The remaining vacant posts will be filled by newly hired engineers and, if appropriate, government employees from other ministries, depending on the availability of budget, he added.

The perspective on rural road construction might have been changed under the new government’s term because only 202.4 miles of rural roads were approved in 2017-2018 fiscal year, which was only 10 percent of 2224.7 miles permitted by the previous government in 2016-2017 budget, according to Deputy Director General of the Department of Rural Development U Myint Oo.

“We proposed over 3000 miles to construct but due to budget limitations, only K31.6 billion for 202 miles 4 furlongs was approved,” he said.

However, the government will prioritise rural road connectivity and rural electrification.

“The State Counsellor has plans for rural roads and better electricity,” U Myint Oo said.

The department plans to propose additional budget in hundred billions of kyats, he added.

At the Hluttaw session, MPs used to raise the questions about rural road upgrades and bridge construction in the areas they represent and the usual answer from Union officials was these cannot be implemented during this fiscal year due to budget constraints and would be planned in the next fiscal year depending on the budget priority.

With the establishment of the Department of Rural Development in addition to existing Bridge Department and Road Department under MOC, it will facilitate the constructions of roads and bridges, U Myint Oo said.

“All are under one single ministry. Department of Road will help with their heavy vehicles. So, the purpose of forming that department is to facilitate the operation,” he said.

As at the end of 2016-2017 fiscal year, there are 5513 concrete bridges, 6751 wooden bridges, 1054 low-water crossing, 10,700 box culverts, 117 suspension bridges, 18 bailey bridges and 88 other bridges under Department of Rural Development.

In the case of roads, they built 1053.5 miles of concrete roads, 1963 miles of tarred roads, 7537.5 miles of gravel roads, 4538 miles of laterite roads, 29519.5 miles of earth roads and 6262 miles of lanes for jeeps, motorcycles, carts and people.

Aside from rural road construction, the Department of Rural Development under MOALI will also implement projects related to rural water supply, rural electrification, rural housing and Mya Sein Yaung projects.