High hopes for new Mandalay market

The developer of a new night market at Mandalay Hill is upbeat about its prospects but residents and tourists say it will face challenges because it’s too far from the city centre.

By SU MYAT MON | FRONTIER

A COMPANY awarded a tender by Mandalay City Development Committee to develop a night market at Mandalay Hill is confident the project will be popular with tourists and families, but residents of the northern capital are sceptical.

The Myanmar Da Yi Company, which was awarded the contract last December, plans to open the night market on June 23, said general manager U Tay Kyi Aung.

The site chosen for the market is slightly west of the entrance to Mandalay Hill, near the Mandalay Region Hluttaw and Yadanarbon Zoo. Tay Kyi Aung said it was a popular spot and would help the market attract business.

“The beauty of Mandalay Hill, especially when there’s a full moon, is something to behold and will be one of the market’s special attractions,” he said.

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Tay Kyi Aung said the market would be divided into three sections. Two sections, for jewellery shops and food stalls, would be available for long-term rent. A third section would offer short-term rents for vendors selling a range of products aimed at the tourist market.

Research by Myanmar Da Yi showed the market would have the potential to provide jobs for about 500 people, Tay Kyi Aung said.

Myanmar Da Yi was registered in June 2015 and is based in Yangon’s Latha Township, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. It has two directors, U Phyo Aung and U Taw Tun Aung.

Tay Kyi Aung said the market was its first venture in Mandalay. Under the terms of the contract, Myanmar Da Yi will operate the market for seven years, after which it will revert to government control.

When Frontier tried to discuss the market with MCDC, most officials seemed unwilling to talk about it. Elected representative U Saw Han initially agreed to meet, but when Frontier arrived at his office he refused to leave his room. Later, his assistant repeatedly said he was in meetings.

One of Myanmar Da Yi’s main reasons for launching the market was to give tourists more shopping and dining options in the evening when they are visiting Mandalay, Tay Kyi Aung said.

Last year the city welcomed 385,031 foreign visitors, a 25 percent increase on the total for 2015.

But residents and tourists wonder how the night market, about a 35-minute journey from downtown Mandalay, will compete against the established Zay Cho market, which has a more convenient location in the centre of the city.

Location is one reason why residents are sceptical about the new night market, said Mandalay-based journalist Ko San Yu Kyaw.

“But the regional government rather chooses to do as it likes,” he said.

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Goods out for sale at Mandalay’s Zay Cho market. (Victoria Milko | Frontier)

Ms Pippa Van Rijkevorstl, a Dutch tourist in her 20s, told Frontier over an evening meal of fried rice at Zay Cho market that its location in the centre of the city was convenient.

“I would not go to the new night market because it is a long way to travel and there are also transport costs to consider,” said Van Rijkevorstl, who had arrived in Mandalay from Yangon and was soon heading to Inle Lake.

The regional government and Myanmar Da Yi will be hoping that it avoids the fate of Yangon’s new night market. Launched last year, it has been mostly abandoned by vendors due to a lack of customers. Vendors have blamed its location on busy Strand Road and a lack of supporting infrastructure for the debacle.

In Mandalay, the early indications are not promising. Many residents with whom Frontier spoke at Zay Cho market said they were unaware about the imminent opening of the night market.

Mandalay resident Ma Ei Nandar Hlaing, 23, said she had concerns about the night market’s location.

“Only a few people who are curious will probably go there,” she said.

TOP PHOTO: A view along the eastern edge of the moat towards Mandalay Hill. (Shutterstock)

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