Thu 14 Mar 2013
Filed under: Business / Trade,Inside Burma,News,Protest / Strike
A government’s telecom project to lay fiber optics underground connecting Yangon and capital Nay Pyi
Taw is facing protest by locals whose farms were unearthed during the project, according to a local involved in the protest.
The farmlands were dug twice, while burying cables along the roads in Thapyay San village, Magway township, one of the locals said.
The local people were asking for compensation for their damaged crops and lands, but the company on the project offered compensation for damaged crops only.
Farms were dug again on March 10 while the negotiation has not finished, arousing anger among the locals.
In both cases, officials did not notice them before digging their farms, the locals said.
This infrastructural project is a joint venture between Myanmar Post & Telecommunication (MPT) and Singapore’s International Telecommunication Holding Ltd (ITHL) for 30 million GSM phone lines to be set up in major cities of Myanmar, including Yangon, Pyay, Magway and Nay Pyi Taw.
“According to my experience, plants cannot grow anymore on that land if cables are buried this way. Although we voiced out our loss, neither the company nor MPT did not response for negotiation,” Kyaw Aung, a local whose farms were damaged, said.
He added he tried to contact the project manager, but failed due to the language barrier as the manager was Chinese.
“They dug our land twice without discussing with us. Now that our farms have been damaged, it is not clear if the company or MPT will pay compensation,” he said.
The project is undertaken by Myanmar Fibre Optic Cable Network Co Ltd (MFOCN), an affiliate of ITHL. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology instructed the company to bury cable along the roads.
“We were told to bury cables 75 feet from the centre of the road. When we noticed we were digging 7 feet farther [than 75 feet from the road centre] and on the farms, we stopped it immediately. The damaged farms will be compensated according to the commission’s decision,” an executive from MFOCN said.
Five feet deep grooves were dug on the farms, and the locals already reported it to the regional authorities.