Tuesday, July 14, 2009

12 Elders Face Charges for Repairing Bridge

Rambree (Narinjara): 12 village elders in Rambree Township in Arakan State are facing criminal charges brought by the township authority for rebuilding a small bridge in the village without permission of the local authorities, reports a villager.

He said, "12 villagers are now facing trial in the court after township chairman Aung Kyaw Zaw filed charges in court against them for reconstruction of the bridge in their village."

The village elders from Paradan Village in Sikon Village Tract in Rambree rebuilt a small bridge with reinforced concrete after the bridge was damaged. The bridge had collapsed on 5 June, 2009, after a group of cattle crossed over it.

"The bridge was rebuilt by the village elders with donations from local people, but there was no permission from the township authority for the bridge construction. The people are innocent and they did not know they needed to inform the local township authority of the bridge construction. So the people just reconstructed the bridge," the villager said.

When Rambree Township chairman Aung Kyaw Zaw heard the news, he became angry with the village elders because they failed to inform him of their plans.

Afterward, the chairman summoned the village elders to his office in Rambree to admonish them and forced them to sign a paper stating they had abused the law. "After signing, the township chairman charged took action against the village elders and charged them in court," the villager said.

Now the elders have been facing trial in court every week and have been unable to attend to their own agricultural work this rainy season.

Many of the public paths and bridges in rural areas of Arakan State have been renovated and constructed by local people with their own funds because the government fails to maintain the infrastructure as needed. It is rare for such legal action to be taken against villagers doing such work in Arakan State.

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