Dala bridge construction stalled as officials debate last-minute design tweaks

The architectural design of Korea-Myanmar Friendship Bridge.
The architectural design of Korea-Myanmar Friendship Bridge.

Construction on the bridge that will link downtown Yangon to Dala Township, on the opposite bank of the Yangon River, has stalled as government officials debate whether the design of the bridge can be altered five months after construction began.

The Myanmar Port Authority (MPA) is currently in talks with the Ministry of Construction over whether the design of the Korea-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, as it is officially known, can be altered to make the clearance 54 meters instead of 49 and to place the bridge’s two piers closer to each shore. The alterations would ostensibly make it easier for ships to pass under the bridge.

“We have terminals along the river such as Asia World Port, Myanmar Industrial Port, and others. There are quay cranes, and you can’t put them horizontally on the ship; you can only put them vertically. That’s why we asked that the clearance be 54 meters,” MPA managing director Ni Aung was quoted as saying by the Irrawaddy.

However, the construction ministry has replied to these concerns saying the requested design changes would raise the cost of the project by millions of dollars and that moving the piers closer to the shores would be technically impossible. It also said that moving the piers could lead to silting, which would make navigation for ships even more difficult.

Ni Aung said at a press conference on Monday that the MPA had come to an understanding with the construction ministry.

“We have agreed to keep the clearance at 49 meters, but ports will have to buy necessary cranes before the bridge project starts,” he said.

He also denied reports that the stalled construction was the result of his department’s opposition to the bridge project, saying: “We have no reason to object to the project.”

The bridge project is being carried out with a US$137.8 million loan from South Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund, while the Myanmar government is investing US$30.341 million, according to the construction ministry. Construction began in January.

The bridge is expected to be 1,936 feet long and will extend from Phone Gyi Road in Lanmadaw Township side to Bo Min Yaung Street in Dala Township.

The project was proposed during the presidency of Thein Sein but stalled because of local opposition. The construction ministry claims to have since adequately compensated residents of the project area.

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