Sunday, May 3, 2009

As Cyclone Season Nears, Few Signs of Shelters

The Irrawaddy News

A plan by Burma’s military government to build disaster shelters in the Irrawaddy delta has apparently made little progress as another cyclone season approaches, leaving many residents wondering why?

Hundreds of shelters would be needed to offer minimum protection from another cyclone of the magnitude of Cyclone Nargis which claimed almost 140,000 lives one year ago.

Burmese children look on as officials gather relief supplies for the village of Twantay,
south of Rangoon. (Photo: AP/Khin Maung Win)

However, the government plan calls for 20 shelters to be constructed.

Local residents say a minimum of one shelter, which can hold about 500 people, should be built for each village tract, which usually has at least three villages.

The government has apparently awarded contracts to numerous companies, but residents say only a few projects are starting while others appear to be in the early planning stages.

Asia World Co. reportedly has started work on a cyclone shelter in Let-Kok-Kone village in Kun Chan Kone Township.

A cyclone shelter is estimated to cost 1,400 million kyat (approximately US $140,000) with companies paid in four installments based upon the finished work.

Local residents in Laputta and Bokalay townships say shelters are urgently needed.

"A year has passed since the cyclone,” said a resident of Laputta Township. “I see no signs of work on a shelter in our village of Chaung Wa, which the Shwe Than Lwin Company is supposed to build. We don't know which direction to run if there is another storm.”

Local residents said that when there were news reports that Cyclone Bijli would pass through Burma, many villagers experienced fear and anxiety.

Dr. Tun Lwin, the director of the government’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH), said in a paper presented at a seminar last month that six cyclones could strike Burma this year.

In the hardest hit area of Cyclone Nargis, in Bokalay Township there are 71 village tracts with 589 villages, and in Laputta Township, there are 50 village tracts with almost 500 villages.

In Laputta Township, a total of 13 cyclone shelters reportedly will be built.

According to reports which could not be verified, the government has assigned the Shwe Than Lwin Company to build two cyclone shelters in Chaung Wa village and Pyin Kha-Yine village; First Myanmar Investment (FMI) Co. to build a shelter in Thin Gan Kone village; Tat Lan Co. to build a shelter in Thet Kae Thaung village; TZTM Co. to build a shelter in Thin Gan Kyi village; Ayar Shwe War Co. to build a shelter in Zin Ywae Gyi village; Moe Kyal Sin Co. to build a shelter in Salu Seik village; Max Myanmar Co. to build a shelter in Pyin Salu village; A-One Co. to build a shelter in Pyin Sa Lu; War War Win to build a shelter in Po Laung; and Myat Noe Thu Co. to build a shelter in Thit Poke village.

In Bokalay Township, the Htoo Trading Co. will build a shelter in Kadon Kani village; and Diamond Mercury Co. will build two shelters in Aya village.

In Pya Pon Township, the Original Co. will build a shelter in Daw Nyein village;Yuzana Co. will build a shelter in Da-Min-Seik village; and Dagon International Co. will build a shelter in Amar village.

In Dedaye Township, Mya Nandar Co. will build a shelter in Thauk-Kya village; Aden Co. will build a shelter in Kyone Da village; and Shwe Taung Co. will build a shelter in Toe Ywa village.

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