By Kyaw Htike Soe
A small mountain airport is being built in Loilenpi Town, Chin State and the airport project is almost 45 per cent completed while the land reclamation task has been about 70 per cent finished, according to a source from the local government. Construction of the small airport project was approved in July 2017. A feasibility study for the small airport was started in January 2018 and construction work began in May 2019.
“We embarked on the construction of the airport in May 2019 and are trying utmost to finalize the project ahead of schedule. Now the retaining walls are being built and we have to remove big stones while carrying out land reclamation task. We would build a runway within two months,” said Mr Terry, an engineer for the airport construction project. Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) International, an international non-governmental organization is developing the airport with some US$ 2.2 million in cooperation with an NGO named Health and Hope (Myanmar), according to the local government. The runway of the airport will be 2600 ft in length and 100 ft in width, and it is expected to be operational in May this year. Once completed, the MAF will offer airport operation services with a maximum of three small aircrafts.
In addition, a new bridge over the Kaladan River on the Paletwa-Matupi Road in Paletwa Township, Chin State is being built by the Bridge Construction Group – 1 under the Ministry of Construction. The facility initially slated for completion by the end of March this year is set to open to traffic soon. Local people currently use two road sections as the Kaladan River crossing bridge is under construction. Construction of the bridge began in the fiscal year 2017-2018 by spending K27 billion of the Union Budget. The structure is being constructed mostly from reinforced concrete and will be 592 metres (1,942 ft) long and 7.5 metres wide. The waterway under the bridge is 115.4 metres wide, and its clearance is 15 metres at the highest water level.
The bridge will be able to withstand up to 60 tons of weight and pedestrian walkways on the structure are one meter wide each. Once completed, residents from nearby areas who once couldn’t directly come to Paletwa Town by motorcar will be able to use the new facility in all seasons with greater ease and have easy access to not only Kyauktaw and Sittway Townships in Rakhine State but also Matupi, Mindat and Haka Townships in Chin State. The bridge would contribute to development of trade in the area, facilitate swift flow of commodities and reduce transportation charges. Be it what it may, road transportation will no longer be a headache for local people who once experienced travels and access barriers to other areas due to poor road transportation network.
Chin State is a mountainous region with few transportation links and remains one of the least developed states of the country. Poor infrastructure, inadequate transportation network, fewer investments, and transportation barriers are the main challenges for local people in Chin State. The local government has been attempting to upgrade basic infrastructure projects, pouring about 50 per cent of its budget into reconstruction and reinforcement of the road networks in the state, to make operational in all seasons.