Farm­ers dis­placed by Bago rail­way to be com­pen­sated, line still sus­pended

The Myanmar Times - - News - Than­htoo@mm­times.com HTOO THANT

FARM­ERS whose land was con­fis­cated to build a rail­way to nowhere are to be com­pen­sated, par­lia­ment has heard. Bago Re­gion’s Pyay-Paukkhaung rail­way, closed “tem­po­rar­ily” in 2013 af­ter run­ning for only three years, will re­main closed for now be­cause it had been op­er­at­ing at a sub­stan­tial loss, said Trans­port Min­is­ter U Kyaw Myo.

The min­is­ter was re­spond­ing on Septem­ber 16 to a ques­tion from Pyithu Hlut­taw MP Daw Ni Ni Tun (NLD; Paukkhaung), who asked about the fu­ture of the rail­way and the plight of the farm­ers whose land was taken to build it. They had re­ceived no com­pen­sa­tion and Paukkhaung Sta­tion was fall­ing into dis­use.

“The rail­way is sus­pended only tem­po­rar­ily at the present time. If lo­cal res­i­dents need it, it can be used again when there are pas­sen­gers and goods,” said U Kyaw Myo, adding that com­pen­sa­tion would be paid to the farm­ers. He said the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment had sus­pended the line be­cause it failed to meet pas­sen­gers’ ex­pec­ta­tions and ran

‘If lo­cal res­i­dents need it, it can be used again when there are pas­sen­gers and goods.’

Trans­port min­is­ter at a loss.

The min­is­ter said the com­pen­sa­tion would be paid from the next bud­get, but gave no fig­ure.

More than 136 acres (55 hectares) of fields be­long­ing to 235 farm­ers in seven vil­lages in the town­ship were con­fis­cated to build the line.

The Paukkhaung rail­way is not the only line los­ing money. The cur­rent gov­ern­ment shut down 16 lines dur­ing its first 100 days for that rea­son and trans­ferred the fund­ing to other ex­pen­di­tures, U Tun Lwin Oo, direc­tor gen­eral for the Min­istry of Trans­portat and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, told a press con­fer­ence in Nay Pyi Taw on Au­gust 16.

Myan­mar rail­way trans­porta­tion losses rose from K12.5 bil­lion (US$10.3 mil­lion) in 2006-07 to K65.4 bil­lion in 2014-15, as the ra­tio be­tween ex­penses and in­come wors­ened by K205.85 bil­lion, for­mer deputy rail­ways min­is­ter U Myint Thein re­ported to par­lia­ment last De­cem­ber.

The cur­rent gov­ern­ment is con­tin­u­ing its pre­de­ces­sor’s ef­forts to pri­va­tise strug­gling state-owned en­ter­prises. But rail­way trans­porta­tion is un­likely to be sold off be­cause en­trepreneurs are thought to see lit­tle profit in tak­ing it over, given the kind of in­vest­ment that would be re­quired.

For­eign ex­perts have sug­gested that the gov­ern­ment should re­tain re­spon­si­bil­ity for rail trans­port for the ben­e­fit of low-in­come trav­ellers and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

– Trans­la­tion by San Layy

U Kyaw Myo

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