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YANGON—The Ministry of Rail Transportation is now reviewing Chinese assessments for construction of the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad project, the ministry has confirmed.

Myanmar and China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project.

“We are now discussing matters on the Chinese data and the MoU after holding a formal meeting at the office. Although China will cover most of the costs for construction of the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad, the project will take about 50 years with the Build, Operate and Transfer system,” said a ministry official.

Once constructed, the Myanmar portion of the railroad will pass through Rakhine, Magway, and Mandalay regions and Shan State.

Civic organizations and local residents alike have protested against the construction, pointing out that the project will bring many disadvantages to locals. Some political parties have also declared that there has been no agreement to proceed with the project.

Concerns centre on the possibility that China, now a global superpower, might interfere in Myanmar’s sovereignty with the construction of railroads and motorways passing through central Myanmar. More serious criticism says that the construction projects have raised concerns about national security: rapid construction of the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad project, according to some observers, might compromise Myanmar’s sovereignty.

China is now discussing with respective ministries the construction of railroads and motorways in Myanmar. At present, a feasibility assessment has been completed for the construction of motorways, and plans are under way to continue the construction projects.

In April 2011, China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) signed a MoU with the Myanmar government for the construction of the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad project. The Myanmar side was led by Aung Min, former railways minister, and former vice-president Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, who had retired from the job.

Nearly US$ 20 billion will be spent during the project.

Although China declared, on signing the agreement, that it would carry out the whole project within three years, a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) has not yet been signed for project implementation in Myanmar, according to the officer’s report of the ministry.

source: Eleven Myanmar