Japan-backed bridge project begins in Yangon
15 February 2019
Construction of a Japan-funded bridge in Myanmar, seen as a symbol of competing interests between China and Japan, kicked off Wednesday with a groundbreaking ceremony in Yangon, the country’s commercial capital.
The bridge, funded by a ¥31 billion (K427.5 billion) low-interest loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, will be constructed over the Bago River next to one that was built with Chinese aid more than two decades ago.
According to JICA, a key objective of the project is to ensure smooth access to and active investment in the Japanese-backed Thilawa Special Economic Zone in Thanlyin township, just southeast of Yangon, which has so far attracted more than $1.5 billion (K2.3 trillion) in investment.
The 2-kilometre-long bridge, to be completed by the end of 2021, will allow heavy container trucks to access the SEZ via a shorter and more convenient route than at present.
The existing two-lane bridge, which has a rail track in the middle, has weight restrictions due to aging, forcing trucks weighing 32 tonnes or more to use a bridge located about 6.4km upstream. It has also become increasingly congested.
Speaking at the ceremony, Kyaw Lin, deputy minister of Construction, said the new bridge will have four lanes and will be able to accommodate up to 75-tonne trucks.
The project will entail a total of 5.5km of construction, including approach roads and a flyover.
The groundbreaking ceremony was also attended by Japanese officials, led by Michio Kikuchi, vice minister for engineering affairs of Japan’s Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry.