One year on, Chin State still reeling from slides
More than a year after landslides swept away their homes and livelihoods, residents of Chin State’s capital say they are tired of being neglected as capricious political promises fall through.
ONE year after landslides ravaged northern Chin State, and geologists recommended a relocation of the state capital, little on the ground has changed, residents say. Election promises of resettlement by Christmas were largely unmet, and families eventually moved into the new dwellings continue to lack electricity or water.
The rain-triggered landslides that struck in July 2015 swept away 7000 houses and pushed more than 4000 people from Hakha into temporary displacement camps.
The state government began rebuilding homes along the HakhaFalam highway, near the new compound of ministerial houses, soon after the disaster. But despite an estimated completion date of December last year, state authorities have still yet to finalise the planned 732 replacement houses in the state capital, or build the accompanying infrastructure, such as a hospital and schools.
Pung Laung Minn Htang, Chin State minister for social welfare, told The Myanmar Times that the project was mostly complete, with almost 700 houses successfully rebuilt so far. He added that between 70 and 100 families continue to need replacement homes.
“We already demarcated an area and began preparatory groundwork. But the houses have not all been constructed yet. However, we are doing our best to replace everyone’s homes,” he said.
Salai KB Thawng, a Hakha-based journalist with the Hakha Post, criticised the new government for not yet implementing the promises made to displaced residents, but encouraged optimism.
“I think they [the government] can’t afford to complete everything that was promised yet because Chin State has many needs and more time is required to meet those needs,” he said.
But residents at the replacement site are tired of waiting. They point to shoddy workmanship, and more than a year of neglect. The replacement homes cannot be considered permanent, they say, as the structures are not weather-proof, and the neighbourhoods are still short on water, power and connecting roads.
Pu Sui Cung, one of the relocated residents, said his replacement home leaks every time it rains, and no drains have been constructed, causing constant floods.
“Nobody cares about the people living in the replacement area,” he said. “A year has passed and the residents still do not have a daily job after their farmland was destroyed. The government keeps making promises to do the best it can for those who need resettlement without actually having a proper plan to put into action.”
A resident of the Chin State capital Hakha walks through an area destroyed by landslides in July 2015.