Transparency urged for Yangon New City Project tenders

The tendering process for a massive housing development known as the Yangon New City Project must be transparent, say members of parliament, business people and economists.

By KO KO AUNG | FRONTIER

The Yangon Region government invited tenders for the project from Myanmar companies on July 13 and they will be opened on August 18, media reports said.

The project, on a 21,716-acre site bordered by the Pun Hlaing and Hlaing rivers, Twante canal and Hlaing Tharyar-Twante Road on Yangon’s southwestern outskirts, will include 200,000 apartments, a school for 2,000 students, a home for the aged for 2,000 people and five six-lane bridges.

“We will check when the tenders are opened to see how transparent the process is,” said Daw Nyo Nyo Thin, an Independent MP in the regional hluttaw, adding that the tendering process must be as transparent as that under which telecommunications licenses were awarded to Telenor and Ooredoo.

“People felt that tender was free, fair and transparent,” said Daw Nyo Nyo Thin, who represents Bahan (2) constituency.

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She called for the team appointed to evaluate tenders to include a technical expert, a scholar and an observer to monitor “all steps of the process and for it to be free and fair”.

Dr Nyo Nyo Thin also said foreign developers should have been invited to tender for the project because it was “too big for a local company”.

Her opinion was echoed by U Philip Thant Zin Maung, the general manager of the Uni Asia Construction and Decoration Co.

“It is impossible for a local company to carry out this project,” he said, adding that a joint venture with a foreign company would have been a better option.

There was also criticism of the K5 billion security deposit needed to tender for the project.

“The project is too big for a local company and the security deposit for tenders is so huge that most Myanmar companies cannot afford to submit a tender,” said independent economist U Khin Maung Nyo.

A member of the Yangon City Development Committee, U Khin Hlaing, expressed reservations over the failure of the Yangon Region government to discuss the project with the YCDC.

“Yangon Region government has not discussed this project with YCDC members, so how can it be transparent?” said U Khin Hlaing, who represents Western District. “I cannot accept this; it is suspicious,” he said.

Reports announcing the decision to call tenders for the project said it was being developed in coordination with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as part of the Greater Yangon Strategic Development Plan 2040. The plan proposes building seven satellite cities around  Yangon that will cover a total of about 119,000 acres and house 10 million people.

The plan gives the Yangon New City Project second priority after a proposed New North East City, covering 17,375 acres.

Dr Nyo Nyo Thin questioned why tenders were called first for the Yangon New City Project.

She said MPs who asked in the regional hluttaw why the New North East City was not being developed first were yet to receive a reply. “To be transparent we have to keep a watch on it,” she said.

The Yangon New City Project is on the site of a controversial development that was cancelled last year following an outcry over a lack of transparency.

Yangon Region Chief Minister U Myint Swe announced in the regional assembly on August 22 last year that an US$8 billion construction contract had been awarded to the little-known Myanma Satanar Myothit Public Company, which has been linked to two Chinese-born investors.

As controversy swirled over the announcement, the regional assembly decided six days later to put the project to open tender.

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