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Tavoy deep-sea port project brings fears of relocation

October 15, 2010

October 15th, 2010

Dawei Development Project

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Taw Lawi : Construction of a new deep-sea port in Tavoy District, in southern Burma’s Tenasserim Division will commence in early 2011, staff members on the Tavoy Seaport Department report.

According to one department staff member, the sea port will be located on Tavoy beach, where the villages of Nabule, Le shoung, Htin Kyi, Ma Yin Kyi, and Taraba village are located. This staff member reported that preliminary preparations for the project are already underway; surveys for the construction of temporary buildings are being conducted, and workers have begun measuring the main road near the future construction site, as well as taking the measurements of future construction areas.

“The deep-sea port will be implemented on the beach of the Nabule area. It is due to the beach [being located on] the deep sea, that beach is deep water, has good currents and does not have rock masses on water. It is a better beach than the others. It [construction on the port] will start at the beginning of 2011”, the staff member said.

According to The Bangkok Post’s July 25th article “Supporters see a depth of opportunities in Dawei [Tavoy] port”, the construction of the port will be the second phase of a 40 billion baht economic routing project between Thailand and Burma. The first of these phases will involve the construction of a highway running from Tavoy to Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province.

According to sources at the Land Records Department in Tavoy District, the highway is intended to be roughly 130 kilometers long, and according to plans will start in Nabule village, Yebyu township Tenasserim Division. Measurements for the highway have also reportedly begun; the Tavoy Land Record Department claimed that the highway’s outline has already been marked from Nabule village, through several communities, across the Tavoy river, all the way through  I Wine village.

The Tavoy deep-sea port project will be constructed through the cooperation of the Burmese government, the Thai government, and Italian construction companies; each group will sign a Memorandum of Understanding, according to the office staff member from Tavoy Seaport Department. He reported that talks for the project commenced in 2005.

Far from receiving unanimous support, the project has sparked intense concern in local Tavoy villagers living on or near the future construction site. Many say that they fear that they will be relocated to make way for the project, and consequently lose their plantations, livelihoods and native communities.

According to a land owner who lives near the site of the future project, relocation for some villagers has already commenced; individuals with homes and lands located at the periphery of the sea port construction site have already been told to leave. The residents of Nabule have not yet been ordered to relocate.

When contacted about the village relocation claims, Tavoy sea port authorities denied that any relocations had taken place.

According to Coordinator of the “Shwe Gas Movement” Ko Wang Aung, whose campaign targets gas pipeline development in central Burma, the construction of the seaport could lead to social and economic consequences throughout southern Burma.

“Land confiscation, relocation, local fishing jobs, and other jobs at the area –  not only where they are building the deep-sea port but also in villages all the way to the Thai border- will be affected. The Burmese government will not be careful for the people because they want the money from foreign investments, and to cooperate with ASEAN countries, and Thailand also wants to extend its business at Burma,” he told IMNA in a phone interview.

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