Ambitious Plans for Yangon Unveiled by Regional Chief Minister

A confirmed zoning of Yangon City to protect its historical core, and a project to develop a skytrain, are among the priorities set by Yangon Region Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein. In a declaration on July 22nd the Chief Minister indicated that a sky train system would be constructed within its five-year term.

The future skytrain line will strech over 50 km, passing over major roads. Despite its large population of 7 million inhabitants, only 1% of the population uses the current circular train service, the equivalent of 70,000 daily commuters. There is also a plan to upgrade the circular line and have it connecting with the future skytrain.

Currently, Yangon is served by 38 train stations with trains from Myanmar Railways operating 125 times a day. There are also plans to launch a water shuttle in order to solve Yangon’s chronic traffic jams in the city centre. The water shuttles will start after the end of the rainy season in late October. Plans are also on the way to replace old polluting public busses with newer, more environmental-friendly models.

In another development, Yangon municipality indicated that a zoning plan for the former capital would be drafted by October. The draft will be submitted by Yangon City Building Scrutinizing Committee and then endorsed by the Yangon Region Government, once everything is agreed upon.

According to Regional MP Sandar Min—who also chairs the Finance, Planning and Economics Committee in the Yangon Region parliament—the regional government needs to issue a zoning plan that definitely prohibits high rise constructions in historical, protected areas.

It’s hard to combat the forces of real estate speculation in Yangon, and many old buildings are being destroyed to make way to poor-quality high rise structures. Yangon regional government already suspended 64 projects, but experts estimate that if the law is passed soon some 294 high-rise buildings would be under scrutiny and eventually face suspension. Commercial pressure will likely remain intense.