Locals under stress when SIA unveils on Dawei Deep Seaport Project

Eleven News 12 June 2012

By Nilar | Translated and Edited by MYA  

When Pandora’s Box was opened for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) over the Dawei Deep Sea Project under implementation in Nabulai area of Ye Phyu Township north of Dawei District in Taninthayi Region, locals are under stress for impending social impact rather than environmental blow.

The previous Myanmar Government and Thai Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in May 2008 for the 10-year Dawei development project which includes the Dawei Deep Sea Port, an industrial zone and a railroad and road connecting Dawei to Thailand. The Myanmar Port Authority and the builder, the Italian-Thai Co. (ITC), signed a MoU in June 2008.

A Development Project Framework Agreement was signed by Ministry of Transport, Myanmar Port Authority Managing Director U Thein Htay and ITC Chairman in November 2010.

According to initial estimates, the development project, located about 20 miles from Dawei, will cost US$ 58 billion. In the first phase, the port, a coal-fired power plant, an industrial zone, a highway and railroad will be built in the 2010-14 period. The cost of the first phase is approximately US$ 8.6 billion; followed by the 160-kilometre, six-lane road and railroad which will connect with Kanchanaburi Province in Thailand through Ye Byu Township, including oil and gas pipelines running along the super highway route.

The community based associations namely Dawei Development Association (DDA), Southern Society Development Network (SSDN), Loka Ahlinn, and Trocaire Association took the survey and released the findings.

A responsible person from the Dawei Development Association said, “When the construction is in progress, the locals are in constant stress and misery as their land is possible to be confiscated. They are suffering anxiety for the possible loss of property due to the indication of SIA rather than the EIA.”

The nervousness is compounded as they are not aware of the directive and instruction regarding the relocation of people to other places, the possible loss of perennial crops and trees, and the compensation benefits, according to the assessment. Some workers become jobless and in hardship to meet end need as the owners of the farm and garden stopped the routine plantation.

Coordinator U Bo Bo Aung of Dawei Development Association said, “The farming and plantation is in dilemma as the inflow of water is being blocked. They have no more access to cut wood for home use and thatched leaves to make roof before the rainy season. Those relying on perennial crops and the older people have difficulty to move to other areas.”

Other predicament also crops up in the fishery sector as the fisher folks are going to lose their fishing blocks due to the construction of Dawei Deep Sea Port. There is no substitute for fishing blocks for the marine sector.

Although the locals are expecting job opportunities from the project, the management employed workers from other areas and Thai nationals. The individual disclosure and group discussions indicated that the project brings disadvantages rather than advantages. The Italian-Thai Company has been awarded to lease the land for the project for maximum utilization of 75 years with 50 percent investment, while Max Myanmar Company to invest 25 percent. The initial investment requires US$ 8.6 billion with total investment of US$ 58 billion.