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Not enough flats available for Mandalay migrant workers on Ayeyarwady River bank


A general, view of the low-cost housing project on the banks of Irrawaddy River in Mandalay, Myanmar, 11 February 2016.  Photo: Hein Htet/EPA

Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) is building a housing project that is to be rented to migrant workers living along the Ayeyarwady River bank. However the flats could be provided to them only by lottery as the demand is higher than the supply, MCDC Joint Secretary Thet Naing Tun said.

The construction of the housing project was started in March 2014 and is now 80% complete. The housing project has 22 six-storey buildings with 12 flats on each floor totalling 1,584 flats. The number of applicants so far is 1,889. It has been suggested therefore that a lottery system may be used to select those eligible.

Thet Naing Tun said, “The rent is the cheapest and we built these flats for migrant workers with affordable amenities. We did our best for them in consideration of their living.”

Thet Naing Tun said that the subcommittee comprised of MCDC, township and ward administrators collected the household lists of migrant workers living along the Ayeyarwady River bank in makeshift houses and found that there were in total 2,658 households.

Most of the migrant workers eke out a living doing cargo handling, working in the sand business, menial jobs, and odd-jobs.

He further said that MCDC would like to give these flats to the migrant workers free of cost but the committee had to spend some money on maintenance and part of the cost of the housing project was taken from Mandalay taxpayers’ money.

Each flat has floor space of 10’x20’ and has a bathroom, a toilet, a bedroom and fitted with water and electricity. The rent of each flat will be 30,000 kyat per month.

Cargo handling worker Mya Gyi who lives on river bank said, “Our life will be secure when we can live in these flats, from hut to flat. It is like a dream. But the rent is a little bit costly for us. We have to work more to pay the rent. It will be more convenient for us if they can give the flats at about 15,000 kyat per month.”

Daily wage worker from the sand business Ma Htwe who has four members in her family said, “Yes, I want to live in these flats but I can’t afford the 30,000 kyat per month rent. Only I and my brother have income in our family and we can earn a maximum 5-6,000 per day only. After spending on food and other expenses we have no extra money to pay for rent.”

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