Residents hopeful Kyaukphyu SEZ will bring regional development

A jetty for oil tankers is seen in Kyaukpyu township, Rakhine state in October 2015.
A jetty for oil tankers is seen in Kyaukpyu township, Rakhine state in October 2015.

LOCAL residents of Rakhine State’s Kyaukphyu Township hope implementation of the earmarked Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will develop employment opportunities, education and health sectors, together with the region’s economy.
“I expect the SEZ will bring with it employment opportunities. The entire four members of our family applied for jobs when workers were called to work on the project in 2015. Now, we’re faced with having to crack rocks for K3,000 a day as casual laborers just to scrape by,” said Daw Sein Nu Yin, from Zaing Kyaung village.
Some domestic companies have established themselves in Kyaukphyu for the Shwe Gas Project and Maday Island Deep-sea Port, but urban residents of Kyaukphyu town say these projects are not only absent from developing the region, they actually have a negative impact on the local economy, health and education.
U Soe Tin, a local Kyaukphyu entrepreneur, believes the completion of the SEZ will bring development to the region in one way or another, highlighting how a vast number of residents have “high hopes” the project will turn around the failing health and education sectors, together with the economy, providing “employment opportunities to tens of thousands of local workers.” He also expects it will sway migrated workers to return home. “It will bring back thousands of workers who’ve migrated internally to Yangon, as well as abroad to neighboring countries of Thailand and Malaysia,” he added.
U Myint Thein, chair of the Kyaukphyu SEZ Management Committee, stated  during a public consultation with local residents on 8 January earlier this year  that implementation of the Kyaukphyu SEZ project will officially break ground during the waning months of the current year and beginning of 2017 on an area of land measuring 4,000 acres, reportedly sparking the interest of the Rakhine public.
However, U Htun Kyi, secretary of the Kyaukphyu Rural Development Association, says there is nothing which currently indicates any kind of project implementation being conducted anytime soon.
The town of Kyaukphyu is Rakhine State’s second largest urban centre but a poor local economy, together with failing education and health sectors, has relegated the town’s development below other provincial towns such as Taungup and Thandwe, say local residents.

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