Thursday, 24 July 2014

Kyaukpyu-Kunming railway's cancelled due to public disapproval

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the Ministry of Rail Transportation and China for the Kyaukpyu-Kunming railway project has expired, according to the Ministry of Rail Transportation.

Myint Wai, manager of the Ministry of Rail Transportation, said on Friday that China has not made any requests to sign another contract and the project will not be implemented due to objections from the people and social organisations in Myanmar.

According to the MOU signed on April 2011, the Kyaukpyu-Kunming railway project was expected to be implemented within three years, but no work has been carried out for the project up to April 2014. As the MOU has expired, it is not valid anymore, according to him.

"The Union Minister has no plan to re-implement this project and the MOU has also expired so we will not carry out the project in accord with public's desire," said Myint Wai.

The Kyaukpyu-Kunming railway project is a strategic project of China and according to the provisions from the MOU draft, the railway would have passed through Rakhine State, Magway Region, Mandalay Region, and Shan State.

Although the MOU for the railway project has expired, there have been rumours of China attempting to construct direct motorway into Myanmar since April 2014 and Myanmar government has been negotiating with respective ministry for the project. According to the rumours, a feasibility assessment of the motorway has been conducted and both sides still need to continue making negotiations for the construction part.

In April 2011, China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) signed a MOU with the Myanmar government for the construction of the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad project. The Myanmar side was led by Aung Min, former railways minister, and former vice-president Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, who had retired from the job.

Nearly US$20 billion was expected to be spent for the project. Most of the construction costs were to be covered by China and it was a 50 year build, operate, and transfer project.

Social organisations have criticised the railway project by highlighting its disadvantages. The public has staged protests against the project while some political parties have announced their disapproval through statements.

source: Eleven Myanmar
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