Independent panel needed for construction compliance, says Yangon MP

YANGON — A member of the Yangon regional parliament has called for the establishment of an independent committee to monitor the construction sector for compliance with approved designs.

U Thet Tun Win (National League for Democracy, Bohtahtaung-2) told the hluttaw on October 12 that the committee was also needed to check work quality and safety standards at construction projects.

He said the role of the proposed “third party” committee should include checking the work of developers, architects, design consultants, civil engineers and others involved construction projects.

The proposal, accepted for discussion in the hluttaw on October 21, is aimed at averting further disruption to the construction sector after Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein ordered a halt to about 200 high-rise projects in May that had been approved by the previous administration. A subsequent review of the projects by a Yangon City Development Committee panel resulted in changes being ordered to dozens of buildings but they were later rescinded amid uproar in the construction industry.

Thet Tun Win said examples of buildings that had not complied with approved designs or standard procedures were the Sule Shangri-La hotel’s 23-storey Sule Square tower and an extension to the Yangon Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital.

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The YCDC is reported to have levied a fine of K2 billion (about US$1.6 million) on the hotel for adding two extra stories to the tower that were not in the approved design. The unauthorised extension at the hospital, that did not have a permit from the YCDC but had been approved by the Health Ministry, came to light after a worker died in a scaffolding collapse in August.

“Because there is no third party committee, there is no checking and no one knows if developers are adding extra stories to buildings,” said Thet Tun Win, adding that special attention was also needed to ensure high-rises were designed to resist earthquakes.

The government needed to take steps to upgrade the engineering sector because of the important contribution it makes to development, he said.

Thet Tun Win that as the ASEAN Economic Community allowed for the free movement of labour, citizens of other nine ASEAN members could come to Myanmar to work, including in construction and engineering.

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