RAKHINE STATE, 20 February 2017: The Rakhine State government, in Myanmar, has invited private developers to accelerate construction of an airport at the ancient city of Mrauk U in northern region of the state.
Irrawaddy media quoted the regional transport minister, U Aung Kyaw Zan, saying the state government has called on private investors to bid for a build-operate-transfer contract that would speed up completion of an airport, now years behind schedule.
“We are calling on international and local companies to invest and to continue the project…it is estimated the finished project would cost 26 billion kyats (USD18.9 million).”
However, not all of the project plans and proposals have been received and the government will need time to complete negotiations with successful bidders, the minister said.
A local construction company, Su Htoo San, started to lay foundations for the project in 2015.
Initially, the state government planned to spend only 2 billion kyats (USD1.5 million) per year to complete the airport, meaning the publicly-funded airport would not open for another 13 years, the report claimed.
In 2016, the union government cut funding for the Mrauk U airport ending all work on the project, it added.
The airport site is located south of Mrauk U, outside of the protected cultural heritage zones, but close to the famous Koe Thaung temple with its 90,000 Buddha images.
Mrauk U is an archaeologically significant town in north Rakhine State, Myanmar. The main attractions are temple ruins.
The most popular transport link to Mrauk U is a domestic flight from Yangon to Sittwe, where travellers transfer to a boat on the Kaladan River to complete the trip.
The destination used to draw thousands of tourists annually, until inter-communal violence between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in mid-2012 virtually ended travel opportunities.
Following the violence, authorities closed the old city to visitors. The ban was lifted, but very few tourist visit the area now fearing further outbreaks of violence between the two religious groups.
Situated on the western coast, Rakhine state borders Chin state in the north, Magway Region, Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Region in the east, the Bay of Bengal to the west, and Chittagong, Bangladesh, to the northwest.