Con­struc­tion of Dala Bridge still way­laid by dis­agree­ments

The Myanmar Times - - Business - THIHA KO KO thi­hakoko@mm­

SIX years af­ter it was mooted, a plan to con­struct a bridge con­nect­ing Dala town­ship in south­ern Yan­gon to down­town Yan­gon has yet to be im­ple­mented ow­ing to dis­agree­ments about mea­sure­ments be­tween the Min­istry of Con­struc­tion (MOC) and Myanma Port Author­ity (MPA), which is un­der the Min­istry of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

The two min­istries have agreed on a height of 49 me­ters for the bridge, but have yet to agree on the dis­tance be­tween the sup­port­ing pil­lars un­der the bridge.

Ac­cord­ing to the MPA, the cur­rent mea­sure­ments of the bridge will pre­vent large con­tainer ships and other ves­sels from berthing at the Yan­gon ports. It will also dis­turb port op­er­a­tors’ fu­ture plans for ex­pan­sion in Yan­gon.

“The cur­rent mea­sure­ments of the bridge will place con­straints on the types of ships that can en­ter our ports as well as limit fu­ture ca­pac­ity ex­pan­sion at the ports. This will limit trade and dam­age the econ­omy,” said U Ni Aung, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of MPA, which held a press con­fer­ence regarding the de­lay in con­struc­tion at its of­fice yes­ter­day.

U Khin Maung Swe, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Bridge Man­age­ment Depart­ment un­der the MOC, said dis­cus­sions and ne­go­ti­a­tions are still ongoing with the MPA and a com­mence­ment date for con­struc­tion has yet to be fixed.

Con­struc­tion of the 1872-me­ter bridge, which is also known as the Myan­mar-Korea friend­ship bridge, was first mooted in May 2012, af­ter for­mer pres­i­dent U Thein Sein vis­ited South Korea.

At the time, the MPA pro­posed a height of 54 me­ters from the wa­ter and a dis­tance of 350 me­ters be­tween the base piers of the bridge. The project was stalled in 2013.

In 2014, a new de­sign for the bridge, pro­vided by the Kore­ans, was pro­posed, with sub­se­quent changes made by the MPA.

In 2015, par­lia­ment ap­proved the con­struc­tion of the bridge, which is es­ti­mated t o cost $168 mil­lion to build. That same year, South Korea signed an agree­ment to pro­vide a loan of $138 mil­lion for the bridge, with the re­main­ing to be funded by the Myan­mar govern­ment.

Con­struc­tion of the bridge was ex­pected to start in 2017 and be com­plete in 2021.

In Jan­uary though, the MPA said con­struc­tion of the base piers of the bridge in the wa­ter would in­volve a nar­row­ing of Yan­gon’s water­ways, which will con­strain the types of ves­sels able to call at the ports. It sug­gested that the base piers be built on land in­stead.

It also sug­gested that the con­struc­tion of a tun­nel con­nect­ing the two town­ships as an al­ter­na­tive to the bridge.

How­ever, the MOC has since replied that a tun­nel would be more ex­pen­sive to build than a bridge and fur­ther de­lay plans by sev­eral years due to the time needed to de­sign the project.

Photo: Shin Moe Myint

U Ni Aung, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of MPA, said the cur­rent mea­sure­ments of Dala Bridge will place con­straints on ships.

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