YCDC tack­les side-street clean-up

The Myanmar Times - - News - ZAY YAR LINN za­yarlinn@mm­times.com

SHACKS, tips, hov­els and huts are be­ing re­moved from Yangon’s al­leys as the city au­thor­i­ties ex­tend their ef­forts to clean up the streets. Yangon City De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee says home­own­ers and ten­ants are be­ing co­op­er­a­tive, but that any­one who re­sists could end up in prison.

The clear­ance pro­gram, which be­gan mid-Au­gust, is be­ing car­ried out in the city’s six down­town town­ships, with the help of ward au­thor­i­ties and build­ing own­ers. City au­thor­i­ties say the clean-up pro­ject will later be ex­panded to cover the whole city.

“Many town­ships are now work­ing to clean up the back-streets. The own­ers of the huts and out­build­ings have been or­dered to move them, sub­ject to penal­ties un­der mu­nic­i­pal law. The huts will soon be gone,” a se­nior YCDC of­fi­cial told The Myan­mar Times on Septem­ber 2.

Clear­ance work be­gan on Au­gust 15 in Lan­madaw, Latha, Pabe­dan, Kyauk­tada, Bo­tah­taung and Pazun­daung town­ships.

“The pub­lic owns the streets, in­clud­ing the back-streets. We told the peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for the vi­o­la­tions that they would have to be re­moved. In the past, the back-streets were clean. But now they are dirty, and peo­ple avoid them. We had to act. These streets should be at the dis­posal of peo­ple go­ing about their nor­mal busi­ness,” said the of­fi­cial.

A 2003 law for­bids block­ing, foul­ing, de­stroy­ing or di­vid­ing the pub­lic roads, and lays down penal­ties ac­cord­ingly, in­clud­ing a fine of up to K500,000 and a year in prison. There is pro­vi­sion for grant­ing ap­pli­ca­tions to build struc­tures on the road un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

Now the city has put up 200 no­tice boards an­nounc­ing its in­ten­tion to en­force the law against block­ing the streets.

Pazun­daung town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tor U Zaw Myint said on Septem­ber 2 that work had al­ready started to re­move il­le­gal struc­tures block­ing side-streets. “Some of the huts are in­hab­ited by work­ers. We tell them what we’re do­ing and give them a cou­ple of days. We’ve cleaned up three wards and 150 huts, but there will be more else­where. We tell the peo­ple who live in the huts what’s hap­pen­ing. We write to them and an­nounce by loud­speaker that we’re go­ing to dis­man­tle the huts. Some wait and see if we re­ally mean it, and when they see that we do, they ac­tu­ally help us de­stroy the huts,” he said.

Shop­keeper Ko Thar Tun said, “The mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials haven’t yet told us to dis­man­tle the huts, but they are draw­ing up lists of places that need to be cleared. We don’t know what will hap­pen. If they make us dis­man­tle the huts, we’ll do it. We know what has hap­pened in other town­ships.”

Many lo­cal res­i­dents have wel­comed the clean-up, after years in which the streets be­hind their homes were fouled by rub­bish and blocked by il­le­gal struc­tures.

“We live on the ground floor. We had to keep the back door closed be­cause of the smell of the garbage. Now the al­leys be­hind the apart­ments have been cleaned up. The prob­lems have been solved, but it will take dis­ci­pline to keep them clean,” said U Nyi Nyi Oo, who lives in ward 7, Pazun­daung town­ship.

But work­ers who live in the side-streets say they have no real al­ter­na­tives for hous­ing. If given evic­tion or­ders, they say they will leave the street for a cou­ple of weeks, with the in­ten­tion of re­turn­ing after the of­fi­cials com­plete the clean-up.

“If YCDC tells me to re­move my house, I will re­move it. But we will have to re­turn after one or two weeks be­cause we don’t have any­where else to sleep or open our small shop,” said U Kyaw Kyaw, who lives on a sidestreet in Kyauk­tada town­ship.

– Trans­la­tion by Win Thaw Tar, San Layy and Khine Thazin Han

Photo: AFP

A girl plays on a ta­ble in a Yangon al­ley last year in front of graffiti that reads “Don’t pee”.

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