High-rise de­vel­op­ers caught in a bind

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - Za­yarlinn@mm­times.com ZAY YAR LIN

Some 55 de­vel­op­ers with in-prin­ci­ple agree­ments handed out by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment have been told by YCDC they will have to make mod­i­fi­ca­tions in or­der to re­ceive for­mal build­ing ap­proval.

NEARLY one third of Yan­gon’s high­rise build­ing projects given in-prin­ci­ple con­struc­tion per­mis­sion un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment have been told to go back to the draw­ing board and make de­sign changes de­spite al­ready break­ing ground on their de­vel­op­ments, Yan­gon City De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee said last week.

In May, YCDC put a halt to all high-rise con­struc­tion as part of a city-wide re­view. Au­thor­i­ties said at the time that any build­ing project nine storeys or higher that had re­ceived a per­mit in-prin­ci­ple un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment would need to sus­pend con­struc­tion un­til the re­view was com­pleted.

Many of the 185 projects that had re­ceived the ten­ta­tive per­mis­sion have started foun­da­tion work on their de­vel­op­ments, while 64 projects that had been given full build­ing per­mis­sion un­der the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion were al­lowed to con­tinue.

The high-rise in­spec­tion com­mit­tee tasked with the re­view re­cently sub­mit­ted its find­ings to Yan­gon re­gion gov­ern­ment, U Than Htay, head of YCDC’s build­ing depart­ment, told The Myan­mar Times on Septem­ber 9.

The com­mit­tee has in­structed de­vel­op­ers among 55 projects, all of which had be­gun lay­ing foun­da­tions, to amend their de­signs to cater for an ar­ray of vary­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tions, in­clud­ing mod­i­fy­ing drainage sys­tems, amend­ing car park re­quire­ments and, in some cases, also seek­ing per­mis­sion from min­istries that own land ad­ja­cent to the project, U Than Htay said.

“Af­ter the find­ings of the in­spec­tion com­mit­tee were sub­mit­ted to Yan­gon re­gion gov­ern­ment, the chief min­is­ter al­lowed the depart­ment to ne­go­ti­ate with the de­vel­op­ers to let them know they could pro­ceed with their ap­pli­ca­tion process, af­ter they un­der­stand what changes they should make,” he said. “The changes needed are dif­fer­ent in each project.”

Of the re­main­ing 130 projects that have re­ceived the ten­ta­tive per­mis­sion, they will still need to sub­mit more pa­per­work be­fore they can re­ceive their fi­nal per­mits, U Than Htay said, but they do not re­quire any sig­nif­i­cant struc­tural changes.

‘They need to make ap­pro­pri­ate mod­i­fi­ca­tions to en­sure the re­quired stan­dards.’

U Than Htay

Yan­gon City De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee

“They need to sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tion which is in line with the re­quired stan­dards,” he said. “For cases where they need to make im­me­di­ate changes, they need to make fixes in ac­cor­dance with the stan­dards be­fore they ap­ply the fi­nal per­mit,” he said.

The move has many dis­grun­tled prop­erty de­vel­op­ers count­ing their losses.

“We were in­vited by YCDC to re­sub­mit our project for ap­proval af­ter we make some mod­i­fi­ca­tions,” said U Kyaw Kyaw Naing, di­rec­tor of iGreen Con­struc­tion.

The com­pany had spent about US$4 mil­lion to $5 mil­lion on a project’s foun­da­tion and de­sign, he said.

“If we do as we are told, we will face enor­mous losses,” he said, adding that he had no choice but to re­sub­mit the de­sign.

De­vel­op­ers came to­gether in July to warn that any ar­bi­trary changes de­manded by the gov­ern­ment could cause up to $6 bil­lion in losses and force many com­pa­nies to go bank­rupt.

“We were told to mod­ify the height of the area of the car park en­try and to set the build­ing a bit fur­ther back from the road,” com­plained one high-rise de­vel­oper last week, ask­ing not to be named due to the sen­si­tiv­ity of the mat­ter. “But piles have al­ready been driven in and set up ac­cord­ing to the pre­vi­ous de­sign, where we have spent mil­lions of dol­lars.”

De­vel­op­ers have said that the gov­ern­ment re­view jeop­ar­dises its rep­u­ta­tion among for­eign in­vestors and will im­pact lo­cal jobs in the con­struc­tion sec­tor.

But the in­spec­tion com­mit­tee has main­tained that it will en­sure the long-term sus­tain­abil­ity of a wellplanned Yan­gon.

“While they are work­ing through their process to ap­ply for a fi­nal per­mit, they need to make ap­pro­pri­ate mod­i­fi­ca­tions to en­sure the re­quired stan­dards,” YCDC’s U Than Htay said.

Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw

YCDC of­fi­cials in­spect a high-rise project in Yan­gon on June 21.

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