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Myanmar Railway has issued a tender to find new operators for the Naungcho-Naungpain tour route to be transported by Rail Gang Car (RGC) and Rail Bus Engine (RBE) over the historic Goteik Bridge.

The offer will be made to Myanmar-based private business owners and companies. Interested parties may submit a tender offer to operate on the rails for a period of up to three years, but must renegotiate their contract with MR every year.

Currently, MR is implementing this tour with one Rail Gang Car with can carry 20 passengers and one Rail Bus Engine which can carry 50 passengers. The cost through the current operator is K5,000 per passenger for single tour.

“Currently, the term of work permit for the private business person is fixed at three years. There is no service on the train. Although the ticket price is K5,000, there is no provision for private businesses on what they can charge for a ticket. Any suitable price shall be allowed,” U Kyaw Kyaw Myo, deputy general manager of MR, said.
The Goteik Bridge can be visited by two RGC and RBE trains arranged by Myanmar Railway for Naungcho-Naungpain, as well as by the Mandalay-Lashio daily train. If passengers choose the RGC and RBE trains, tickets must be purchased at Naypyitaw, Yangon and Mandalay railway stations.
“It is especially arranged for travelling public. If it is booked, transportation shall be made by these trains. The transportation charge is fixed K100,000 for RGC for 20 passengers with the rate of K5,000 per passenger. If it is chartered, the train shall be booked for K100,000,” U Kyaw Kyaw Myo told Myanmar Business Today.

The Goteik Bridge, established in 1903, is the highest and longest bridge in Myanmar with a length of 2,260 feet and at a height of 335 feet. Despite these daunting figures, people continue to walk along the rails over the bridge. In an attempt to deter this dangerous behavior, Myanmar Railway prohibited walking on the bridge in December last year.

“Some people cross the bridge on foot to take photographs. Some are drunk, it is very dangerous. Sometimes while the train is going to come up the bridge, I have been in the middle of the tracks. Although there are places to avoid an oncoming train at either side of the rails, I’m not sure whether those metal terraces are strong enough or not,” U Tin Aung, who lives in Mandalay and visited to the bridge last December, said.

The Goteik Bridge is situated seven miles away from Naungcho railway station, in Naungcho township, Northern Shan state. Naungpain and Naungcho stations are 16 miles from one another.

Goteik viaduct, when completed, was the largest railway trestle in the world. The bridge was constructed by Pennsylvania and Maryland Bridge Construction. The rail line was constructed as a way for the British Colonial regime to expand their influence in the region.

Author: Moh Moh Kyi | 16 March, 2016 14:09 pm | Vol 4 Issue 11
Credit : Myanmar Business Today

Releases policy notes for economic development

The World Bank said Myanmar’s economy has the potential to grow rapidly, up to around 8 percent per year in real terms over the next five years.

With the right policy choices, Myanmar’s growing economy can provide more jobs and higher incomes for the people, according to a series of new policy notes issued by the DC-based lender.

The policy notes discuss development opportunities and reform options for Myanmar, useful for policy-makers and all persons interested in the future of the country.

“Myanmar is at a historic milestone in its political and economic transition. The great opportunity for Myanmar is to turn continued strong economic growth into better lives for all the people of Myanmar,” Ulrich Zachau, World Bank Country Director for Southeast Asia, said.

“Three policy directions will be key to help achieve such inclusive growth: the further opening and diversification of the economy, with a level playing field for the private sector and structural shifts to more productive and labor intensive activities; nationwide programs to achieve, over time, universal access to basic education, health, and energy services of reliable quality; and transparency and accountability in the public sector.”

World Bank said the policy notes aim to promote dialogue and generate ideas on critical development challenges and options for policies and reforms that can contribute to shared prosperity for the people of Myanmar.

The World Bank’s Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Axel van Trotsenburg shared these policy notes with National League for Democracy Chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Minister of Finance U Win Shein, and Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw U Win Myint last week, highlighting six pathways to growth – through access to social services, reducing rural poverty, private sector competitiveness, financial inclusion, energy and public sector governance.
The six interconnected groups of policy initiatives could together strengthen overall progress towards shared prosperity, the Bank said. Each policy note summarises the context and opportunities for change, including recent reforms and developments.

“Myanmar has the potential to follow a similar path of inclusive growth as other Asian countries that enjoyed long periods of rapid income growth,” said Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Manager for Myanmar.

“The country faces a long road ahead in addressing continued challenges to close disparities across Myanmar’s geography, ethnic communities and income groups. The World Bank Group looks forward to continuing to support the people of Myanmar in overcoming these challenges.”

Author: Tin Mg Oo | 28 February, 2016 07:54 am | Vol 4 Issue 9
Credit : Myanmar Business Today

The Ministry of Culture has backpedalled on a decision to ban visitors from ascending pagodas in Bagan.

The edict, announced on February 22,prompted cristism from the tourism industry as well as from within the ministry. In barely 24 hours the ministry clarified its position, saying visitors would be banned from ascending all but five pagodas – its previous policy.
The ministry took the unpopular original decision because a medical company had conducted a cultural show on Pyathagyi Pagoda in the second week of February. It was to come into effect on March 1.
“We allowed it back as usual,” said U Zaw Zaw Tun, a director in the Ministry of Culture, without providing any further explanation.
Even Deputy Minister for Culture Daw Sandar Khin was critical of the decision. She posted on Facebook that she had not been consulted on the decision and it did not represent her views.
“They sent the announcement letter on the evening of February 22 and then they posted it on the ministry’s Facebook pages without getting suggestions and opinions,” she said.
Visitors will still be allowed to ascend Shwesandaw, Thitsarwady, Pyathetgyi, Taung Guni and Myauk Guni.
Bagan-based Ministry of Culture official U Thein Lwin said decisions of this nature required consultations.
“We need the views of people from many sectors, like culture, tourism and the general public. A decision like this cannot just be implemented by one [department],” said the deputy director general of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library.
He said stakeholders, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, and travel associations should be included in talks.
“We’re working on implementing a better policy for the future. This was a great example for public awareness, but it was wrong that they made such a sudden decision,” U Thein Lwin said.
Guides were happy that they were able to take tourists back on the temples within 24 hours after the ban.
“We very happy and delighted to return to climbing on Bagan pagodas and hope to get a better way to maintain the pagodas in the future,” Ma Ghantgaw Naing, a guide for Italian tourists, said.

By Ei Ei Thu | Thursday, 25 February 2016
Credit : Myanmar Times

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