By Khin Yadana, Photo: May Oo Moe
The infrastructures of a nation such as transport, technology and electricity are highly significant. The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) has been responsible for the national transportation projects and other transportation related obligations since the new administration took office. MoTC is charging ahead in its new policy to upgrade current transportation facilities to catch up with other regional countries in order to bring the National Central Transportation project to life. The main objective has always been efficient and affordable transportation system for MoTC. This is mentioned in the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ third year report.
Q: How have you executed the policies of MoTC within the past year to give the best possible transportation service to public?
A: The main goal for the MoTC has been to find the intersection between business orientation and regulation compliance to be the best transportation service we can. This is done by looking at how people chose their transportation modes, providing the service that is best suited for users and putting a price that have minimal government intervention and fair to the users that is set by the market. We still need to upgrade our facilities to compete that of the private ones. The ministry is currently working towards using the funds from taxes in developing the state-owned corporations to be more efficient, environmentally friendly and fulfilling the needs of the public.
Q: What kind of developments have been in place for the railway sector?
A: We are working towards catching up to international standards regarding the railway sector in terms of how it operates and the services available. There are 39 express trains, 53 for local trains, 47 for passenger trains and 221 for circular trains operating within the city and its’ nearby towns. New equipment has been ordered along with newer carts to upgrade the railway facilities.
This year, the ministry is prioritizing the Yangon city circular train, Yangon-Mandalay Rail line, Pegu-Mawlamyine Rail line, Mandalay- Myitkyina Rail line and Yangon-Pyi rail line.
Q: What about for the Yangon Circle Train?
A: We have trenches dug along the tracks, raised railway platforms and upgraded the tracks. The bottom at the PC Girder bridges has been raised, there are fences with iron posts and meshes, roads have been paved and PC Concrete has been enforced in areas connected to bridges instead of iron frames. These have been made possible due to a Japanese loan of 207 million U.S. dollars and 54 billion Kyats from the National Budget. With these funds, we are buying signal systems and DEMU cars in accordance with the National Budget allocations.
For bigger renovations, we are calling for tenders from private companies. Current developments are as follow: 59 miles of welded railway with 14 platforms renovated with 10 in progress, 9 overhead bridges with 2 in construction and plans for additional 30, 2 crosswalks in renovation with 15 in construction and 8 planned.
Q: Pegu – Mawlamyine and Yangon-Mandalay rail routes are being upgraded as well. Can you explain to us about the improvements?
A: For the Pegu -Mawlamyine railway renovation, we have already re-welding 129 miles of rail tracks with steel and are near completion. And for refilling the stones in the rail tracks, we have completed 49 miles out of 80.
For Yangon-Mandalay railway, there are 385 miles long and the renovation is divided into two phases with a budget of 2115 million U.S. dollar loan from the Japan and a national budget of 468 million U.S. dollars. The first stage is the 166 miles from Yangon to Taunggu and the second stage is 219 miles from Taunggu-Mandalay.
From the Myanmar’s side, there have to a total 141179 piles of pebbles to be collected, 166548 concrete blocks and 14550 feet of brick fences. The Japanese has called for a total of 8 tenders and has already signed joint ventures for Tender CP 102, 103,104,107 and 108 and area already starting their constructions. CP-101 is currently in the contract negotiations phase with a call for PQ for CP-105 and CP-106 is scheduled to resume after the railway infrastructure building.
The second part of the project on May 2018 and is expected to finish September 2019 with detailed designs signed this year’s January between JICA and Myanmar railways. For the project consultancy, OCG-JV is currently in effect.
Q: Can you explain to us about the Upper Myanmar Myitkyina Railways and the widely popular Yangon-Pyay railway upgrades?
A: There are larger renovation projects for Mandalay-Myitkyina rail line and heavy machines were utilized on the 85th mile Mandalay-Myitkyina rail line to weld steel rails together. We are also getting help from Korea to make the track less step and lessen the curve in Gotauk-Mazar 23rd mile and Mawhan-Kardu 10th mile posts. The final report was sent on January 2019 and we’re trying to get 100 million dollars funding for this. We have inspected 447 bridges on the 166 mile Yangon-Pyay rail track. We’re working on securing financing from ADB to achieve a 120km/hr 20 ton Axle Load.
Q: Including the Yangon Circular Train, what other developments have been done in the railroad sector within the past year.
A: An Urban Transport Development long-term Plan in Greater Yangon (2016-2035) was drawn with the help of Japan. The detailed report which includes the Yangon Urban Mass Rapid Transit (YUMRT), North-South Road connecting Dala and Mingaladon spanning over 27 km and East-West Road between Hlaing Thar Yar- Toekyaung Lay of 25 km is currently being drafted with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and is expected to be completed September 2019.
This is expected to alleviate much of Yangon’s traffic problems and make transportation smoother. There are also plans to build more passenger coaches and locomotives. The Myitnge Carriage and Wagon Workshop and Napyitaw factory have built up to 10 new locomotives with 2000 horse power and substituted 5 new diesel engines with old ones. They refurbished a total of 432 locomotives upgraded (100 large-scale and 79 mid-scale). With the help of China, Myanmar was able to build 21 passenger coaches in the 2018-2019 Financial Year in the Myitnge Carriage and Wagon Workshop. With the national budget, we were able to build 35 new passenger coaches and repaired 40 coaches more.
Running the New Passenger Carts
The new locomotive and passenger coaches with air bags started running on the Mandalay –Myitkyina line starting Dec 29, 2018. With the loan from the Republic of Korea, there are plans to buy 100 more coaches worth 45 million US dollars in the span of time three years (2017-2020). Design Meetings are currently taking place at the Myitnge Carriage and Wagon Workshop with production expected to end in 2020. Utilizing the interest free loans from the Republic of China of 80 million Yuan, Myanmar was able to buy 28 more passenger coaches in line with the Dec 3, 2018 Resolution of Hluttaw and the project is estimated to be completed within 2 years of its start date.
Lowering Frequency of Accidents
Within the financial year 2018-2019, there were a total of 277 accidents. There were 363 during 2016-2017 and 350 during 2017-2018 and the ministry is working on more educative talks so as to reduce the number of accidents.
Kerry Logistics and Resource Group Logistics won the tender for construction of dry ports with the BOT system and made their building work at Ywarthargyi on November 18, 2018 and the Myitnge dry port has been opened on Jan 23, 2019. There were increase in cargo rail coaches with an average of two journeys for Yangon-Mandalay marking up to 69 round trips to date with a total of 3017 containers with the weight of 53786 tons transported.
Q: How are you working towards safety in the road transportation sector?
A: We have registration for cars, licenses for rental cars and drivers and other rules and regualtions for road transportation safety. We registered a total of 7.2 million cars in December 2018 compared to 5.5 million in March 2016. The accident rate has also gone down 9.26 per cent per 10,000 cars in 2013 to 7.18 per cent per 10,000 cars.
Q: How did the reform processes in Aviation Sector?
A: We are working towards bringing the airlines up to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) standard along with the international rules and regulation regarding safety, security and environmental management. There are plans to expand the runaway and rebuild the infrastructure on popular airports like Myitkyina, PutaO, Lashio, Heho, Minesat, Sittwe, Thandwe, Mann Aung, Loikaw and Nyaung U airports. For Heho, Mawlamyine and Kawthaung airports, we called for tenders and picked on Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) program while we have a tender out for Muse airport.
For remote areas such as PaLan, Chin State an airport is in development with the national budget to upgrade the ATR-72 aircraft capability airport to landing airplanes by 2020-2021. There are plans to build a Hantahwaddy international airport with the help of Japanese loans in negotiation. There were 9.9 million travelers into Myanmar in 2018, increase from 10.12 million in 2017 and 9.26 in 2016.
Q: Are there any difficulties running the Myanmar National Airways?
A: The airline was transformed on 2013-2014 financial year with domestic flights that expanded to international flights. With the short amount of time that was make possible, it was a success. The airline currently runs to 28 domestic cities and international flights to Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, China and India regularly. Yangon -Pathein chartered flights are available starting December 25, 2018. There are a total of 16 aircrafts in 2016: 3 Boeing, 2 Embraer, 5 ATR, 4 Caravan, 2 Craft but now the airline has expanded to have a total of 17 aircrafts: 4 Boeing, 2 Embraer, 9 ATR and 2 Caravan. We started doing large scale renovations on the ATR starting April to get the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certificate in hope to save the country some losses regarding operation costs. There were a total of 1,709,715 passengers during 2018 , an increase from 1459,882 in 2017 and 1041981 in 2016.
Q: Did you encounter any natural obstacles while operating the water transport?
A: There is a total of 6737 km of waterway in Myanmar with the three major rivers (Ayeyarwaddy, Chindwin and Thanlwin) combined. The rivers are unpredictable with their levels, sedimentary deposits, flood, eroation and change in directon of flow of water. We have prioritized making sure the water flow is good in 40 areas in the 2018-2019 year along with prevention measures against landslides in 683 especially in the NamYamand Moko streams, Thaung Yin and Shwe Li River, Maesaingmae Hawt and Nam Want. Landslide prevention walls of 64137 feet were added from 39000 the previous year.
Q: How about floods?
A: We are forming committees in States and Regions to deal with floods, especially for the coming three years. There is a total of 115 work plans and 11 work plans are to be done completely in 2018-2019. Projects are being implemented as well in the Mandalay -Myitkyina Railway, Yangon-Mawlamyine railway and highway, Yangon-Mandalay railway and highway and Hpa-An for flood protection.
All round development in Ayeyarwaddy Delta
With the help of 100 million US dollars from the World Bank, the government is working towards developing the delta region all around. This includes the Tuntay Canal Development Project with 61.3 million USD loaned from the Republic of Korea and 7.9 million Kyat budget from the National budget. These projects to dig trenches, maintain coasts and prevent floods in the Tuntay area will be carried out from 2018-2023.
Rakhine Waterway development
The Japanese government has contributed three Kisapanadi vessels from March 2017 to March 2019 and by using them there are more services in the waterways of Rakhine.
Q: What are some significant changes you have notice at the ports?
A: We have started rebuilding the Mandalay jetty with JICA’s fund of 55 million USD starting November 2018 with plans to build a 180 m bridge, 29540 sq meters for container yard and 2 drawbridges of 236 m and 183 meters. Japan will be calling for tenders starting April with plans to start construction in 2019 and completed 2020.
Upgrading of Yangon Port
There is a total of 9 ports along the coastline spanning over 1385 miles with Yangon s
Erving as a main port processing 90% of shipment with a total of 41 bridges for vessels of international standards to dock. There are plans to build more ports/bridges/docks such as Green Asia 200 m terminal, Elite Petro Chemical terminal Wilmar International docking bridge and International Bulk Terminal Thilawa . Puma Energy Asia Sun bridge is 135 m long and two others built recently with Japan’s ODA loan is 400 m long each. Kyimyindaing International Port Terminal is 80 m. During the administration, there were a total of 3035123 containers with 76323581 tons handled.
There are also plans to improve on our safety procedures regarding water vessels such as moving the Pilot Station during bad weather, building a state of the art 3 story building to move the marine traffic control by March 2019. We are using the Japanese grant of 14.27 million USD to digitalize Port-EDI between 2016-18.
Q: Regarding communication, can you explain to us about the improvements in mobile connectivity.
A: The new internet era in Myanmar began in 2014. Thanks to the investments flooding in the industry, we have about 99 percent mobile penetration in the market with 53.74 million people estimated with access to a mobile phone. The internet penetration has jumped from 55.41% to 82.56% with coverage for up to 92% of the people. There is a total of 10,000 telecom towers in 2016 with the number approaching 21,000 in 2019. Fibers cables run up to 49452km from the 68130 km planned. The bandwidth has also increased to 613.30 Gbps.
Q: What about efforts towards an e-Government?
A: A master plan for e-governance has been drawn on 2016 with a committee formed on Jan 2018 to carry out the plan. Myanmar National Portal was also launched September 2018.
A system in Myanmar
The National Standard Council is trying to implement a mandate released on February 2019 on installing the International Standard Organisation(ISO) 10646 approved Unicode font for Burmese with plans to implement it national wide starting April 2019 for telecom operators and government offices.
The servers for respective departments have been built in a Tier-2 Data center in Naypyi taw with plans to build a Tier-3 e-Government Integrated Data Center(eGIDC) worth 93 millino USD with a loan from Korea starting December 2018. The Loan Pledge Acceptance Letter was sent to Korea and the eGIDC is expected go e completed in 2022.
Q: What about the Satellite system?
A: We are still working on launching one. We have rented the MyanmarSat 1 Condosat satellite from Intelsat Satellite Operator with 862 Mhertz on a Indefeasible Right of Use which is going to end in 15 years starting this September. Currently, Myanmar Aviation University iw working with Japan’s Hokkaido University to launch and Earth Observation Satellite (EOS) starting 2019-2020.
Q: Can you explain to us about people oriented postal service?
A: We are working to includes all domestic and international postal services such as mail and package delivery with tracking, collecting fees for mobile apps, car fares, online shopping businesses, mobile money and bank representatives.
The Mobile Post Office has also been set up at crowded areas in 2016 such as in Yangon, Mandalay and Naypitaw. The postal services of Myanmar have increased its ranking from 126 in 2018 to 91 in the Universal Postal Union.
Q: What about the third year for the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology?
A: We have real time weather stations installed at Kyauk Phyu, Yangon and Mandalay. We are also working towards installing a station that can detect for storms for the whole country every 15 minutes in Dawei in collaboration with Japan. Within the 3 years of the administration, 2 weather stations and 5 seismic stations were added to the department.
Translated by Myat Thu