Rakhine group calls for suspension of Kyaukphyu SEZ project

10 December 2015
Rakhine group calls for suspension of Kyaukphyu SEZ project
Concerns have been voiced over how the plans might negatively affect the local fishing industry in Rakhine State. Photo: Nyunt Win/EPA

Sittwe (Mizzima) – The Rakhine Social Association has called for the suspension of two deep sea port projects to be built in the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on Myanmar’s western coastline. 
The project is planned as a key port in the Bay of Bengal which will serve as a hub for energy and goods from India, the Middle East and Africa.  
The Rakhine Social Association (Yangon) Chairman Hla Thein said his group was calling attention to their concerns. 
“We worry about bringing a coal-fired power plant and the oil refinery industry to this SEZ,” he said.
Kyaukphyu SEZ Management Committee chairman and Union Rail Deputy Minister Myint Thein said at Union Parliament meeting on December 3 that the commencement of the project would take place in February 2016.
Hla Thein noted that environmental hazards have resulted in other countries from such energy-processing industrial zones. “We don’t want to see such hazards in our region,” he said. 
He said he was also concerned about local residents being forced to move without proper support. The group’s statement said there is lack of public awareness about the SEZ, and a lack of environmental impact and health studies by independent and internationally recognized organizations.
The government has established three Special Economic Zones: at Thilawa, Dawei and Kyaukphyu. 
The Kyaukphyu SEZ will be environmentally sustainable and bring significant socio-economic benefits to the region, say government officials.
Myint Thein said Deep Sea Port project No. 1 involves 370 acres of land; Deep Sea Port project No. 2 involves 237 acres of land. An Industrial Zone project has 2,446.07 acres and a housing project has 1,235 acres. 
The SEZ is located about 8.5 km south of Kyaukphyu and Kandi village-tracts, the Thaingchaung village-tract, the Kyektain village-tract, the Kupthabyay village-tract and Chuangwa village-tract. 
Deep Sea Port project No. 1 is located in north Maday Island and Deep Sea Port project No. 2 is located in north Ramree Island. The housing project would be built about 12 km south of Kyaukphyu town, in the area of Chaungwa village-tract and Minbyin village-tract. 
The Kyaukphyu SEZ was first announced in September 2013. The project initially began as a joint venture between the Chinese and Burmese governments, but has been transitioned to private developers.
Kyaukphyu SEZ will service the Shwe gas field in the Bay of Bengal, which in turn services a pipeline carrying oil and gas to China.