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The squatter huts along the bank of the Ayeyawady River which were bulldozed five days before the Norwegian king’s one-day visit to Mandalay are being rebuilt, but the residents are struggling to pay the construction costs.
The authorities also stopped loading services when the slums were destroyed at Gaw Wein jetty, removing the squatters’ income.
“We cannot afford to eat because we have not worked in five days. We only earn a little because of checks on ships’ commodities. The majority of us cannot afford to buy timber and nails to rebuild our homes,” said Ko Oo, whose home was flattened.
Officials from Mandalay development committee say the huts along the Strand Road and near the port are squats and the residents have been allocated new land in Pyigyitagun Township since 1995.
Ko Oo, however, said: “I am a native of Mandalay. I have always lived here. Our family has not received a plot. It is not true that everyone living here has been allocated land. We left here when the authorities moved us but we have returned because there is nowhere else to go.”
The Mandalay tax officer at the city development committee said: “I am too busy to answer this. I have no authority to decide if action should be taken against them. We have to seek an order from above as to whether we will demolish the rebuilt houses or not.”
Just hours after the Norwegian king’s visit, all work to improve the area, such as new flowers, was reportedly removed.
Some elderly people and children have been sick after sleeping outside because of their forced eviction.
King Harald V told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that Myanmar’s attempt to hide its poverty was unacceptable. CR. EMG