By Kyaw Htike Soe
Located in western Myanmar along the border with India and Bangladesh, Chin State is a mountainous region with few transportation links and remains one of the least developed areas of the country. Chin’s State development was hampered by poor infrastructure, inadequate transportation network and fewer investments. With an estimated population of 490,000, Chin State consists of 72,723 households from 470 village-tracts.
Transportation barriers and lack of adequate infrastructures such as electricity are the main challenges for local people in Chin State. The local government has been attempting to improve the transportation infrastructure, injecting about 50 per cent of its budget into reconstruction and reinforcement of the road networks, to make operational in all seasons. Total length of rural roads in Chin State was recorded 4,770 miles including concrete, tarred, gravel, and earthen facilities. In addition, there are 404 wooden, suspension, Bailey and concrete bridges and box culverts in Chin State. The length of roads constructed across Chin State was 1,317 miles in which around 426 miles are managed by the Union Government while more than 890 miles are handled by the local government.
All road networks in Chin State were reportedly repaired by the local government in cooperation with the Ministry of Construction by spending over K91,669 million in the fiscal year 2018-2019. Maintenance work for road networks in Chin State will also be undertaken with the use of nearly K75,000 million in the current financial year, according to a senior official from the local government. Construction of a new road financed by the World Bank is scheduled to begin in October this year, the local government official said. The new road would link Kalay in Sagaing Region with Falam and Haka in Chin State.
“The new road marks the first of its kind funded by the World Bank in Chin State and the project will be implemented by the Ministry of Construction beginning October this year,” he added. He highlighted that the Kalay-Falam-Haka road is crucial to link Chin State with other regions and states in the country and once completed, it will contribute to the development of Chin State as well as Sagaing Region. The project will be developed with the use of a US$ 67 million loan from the World Bank and is part of US$ 200 million of financial aid provided to Myanmar after the country experienced floods in 2015, said a representative from the World Bank. The 124-mile long road will be built by the Ministry of Construction. The World Bank and the Ministry of Construction have rewarded Cardno Myanmar Co, Ltd to conduct environmental and social impacts of the road project with the aim of lessening negative effects on the environment to a certain extent and take grievances of local people into consideration.
A bridge crossing 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 and the project is reportedly slated for completion by the end of March this year. Local people currently use two road sections as the Kaladan River crossing bridge is under construction. Construction of the bridge commenced in the fiscal year 2017-2018 through the Union Budget. The facility is being constructed mostly from concrete and will be 592 metres (1,942 ft) long and 7.5 metres wide. The waterway under the facility is 115.4 metres wide, and its clearance is 15 meters 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 by motorcar will be able use the new bridge in all seasons with greater ease, thereby contributing to socioeconomic development of the area. In addition, the facility is expected to promote development of trade in Chin State, facilitate swift flow of commodities, reduce transportation charges, and lift socioeconomic status of local people.