The Post-1988 Urban Works Programme and Satelite Town Resettlement I: Transport and communications, Energy and Construction

Transport and communications

Before 1988, the number of commuting trips between downtown area and the old suburban area were equally distributed among the railway, bus and private cars. After 1988, with the expansion of development to the East, North and West of Yangon city, medium and low income level people moved to the new satellite towns and they commuted to downtown area by buses. The railway network however was not extended to support commuting from the new suburban and downtown to Yangon city. Commuters from outer ring and inner ring also shifted to bus-use because of accessibility and short waiting time for buses.

On the other hand, there was a decrease in the level of service in the railway sector and maintenance standards of railway infrastructure had deteriorated. This resulted to the bus becoming the dominant transportation mode in daily commuting trips between suburban area, old suburban area, outer ring, inner ring, and downtown area. This further created additional demands on the already overloaded transportation system in the city.

The new policy of a shift towards a more market-oriented economy has emphasised a need for improved physical infrastructure including air, water, rail and road transport, together with modernized telecommunications. The Government allocates high priority to the replacement of equipment and the expansion of systems to deal with growing volumes of both internal and external trade. The private sector dominates internal freight transport.

Private road transporters have around eight times the number of trucks registered as the public sector, and five times the number of buses. This private-sector dominance is further augmented by around 26,000 pick-ups used as minibuses. Highway networks are being upgraded, following 40 years of neglect, and new routes are under construction. (JICA, 2018)

The relatively low distribution of feeder roads in the remote border areas will affect the proposed programmes for increased coverage of essential services. A system of rural service centres to provide strategically-located groupings of key facilities will need to be investigated. This will, in the long term, influence population distribution and rural settlement patterns. The existing and planned national road and rail network allows comparatively good links between the main urban centres. The Yangon metropolitan-level loop railway line is underexploited as an urban mass-transit mode. The post-1988 satellite townships will depend heavily on the opportunities for upgrading this rail system in the capital. These new developments, combined with the likely rapid modernization of the economy, will put stress on the existing public transport systems and traffic management capacity. To a lesser extent, similar urban transport problems will be experienced throughout the other larger urban centres. A less restricted media will provide opportunities for higher levels of communication and of expanded participation in the management of urban and rural settlements, and will enhance education in public health and environmental issues.

Public transport in Yangon is provided by the modes listed in the following table:

Public transport trip rates 1982 (Source: In BUR/80/005 Rangoon City and Regional Development Project, Transport Consultant’s Final Report, December 1983)

In 1982, the State Road Transport Corporation (RTC) had 348 Hino and Leyland buses in Yangon. There were 1039 privately-run buses and 53 run by cooperatives. RTC had turned over three of their least profitable lines to the private sector due to a shortage of serviceable vehicles. Those in the private sector were much older.

The greatest intensity of bus travel was between the CBD and the two most important low-cost housing areas, North and South Okkalapa and Insein. From observation, the predominance of buses and taxis as public transport remains the same today.

The expected added pressure on all forms of transport to reach the new post-1988 resettlement areas from the centre of Yangon was verified through 71 field inspection. The fact that there is only one narrow bridge giving access to Dagon, and that the ferry must be used to reach Hlaing Tha Ya intensifies the problem. The accelerated implementation programme for these areas has meant that all routes are clogged with all means of public and private transport attempting to carry building materials, personal belongings and people to the new sites. 


The most immediate priority will be to complete the road bridge already under construction to improve access to Hlaing Tha Ya and to improve the major connections between Dagon and the city.



The country’s energy resource-base includes natural gas, petroleum, hydropower, biomass and coal. Reserves are more than adequate but production problems have led to extreme shortages. Myanmar is one of the lowest commercial energy consumers amongst the less developed countries (LDCs) (73 kg-oil-equivalent compared with an average among other LDCs of 116 kg-oil-equivalent – excluding China and India). The country now faces an immediate energy-supply crisis caused by declining supplies of oil, gas and electricity.

Power shortages and intermittent supplies will severely affect the ability of the major post-1988 urban-resettlement areas to develop as productive communities. Modernization will increase energy consumption in both urban and rural settlements, leading to a higher demand for domestic electrical equipment, to shifts in living patterns and resultant changes in housing forms.



The volume of construction from 1985/86 to 1988/89 is broken down by public, co-operative and private sectors in table q. Data on public sector housing stock held by ministries for their own personnel, and for which the Government retains full operation and maintenance responsibilities, are provided in table 2.

Volume of construction works (K millions) Source: Ministry of Planning and Finance, Review of Financial, Economic and Social Conditions for 1989/90.
Housing stock for public servants (number of dwelling units) (Source: Ministry of Finance and Planning, Review of Financial, Economic and Social
Conditions for 1989/90.)

The lifting of controls on private contractors competing for government work provides opportunities for the introduction of efficient, competitive construction industry. Lack of management experience and the continuing critical shortage of building materials Will constrain progress. There is, nevertheless, a promising foundation. Although production capacity needs expanding and transport costs need stabilizing, ample natural resources for construction materials are readily available.


With the notable exception of steel and related products, most construction and services components are manufactured within the country, albeit not always to acceptable standards and adequate levels of output. Increased population pressure on urban centres, together with higher levels of industrialization, will, undoubtedly, overtax the industry in its current embryonic state. A more diversified industry, with opportunities for a range of sizes and specializations in firms, should accelerate the move away from temporary construction materials to housing with less fire risk and higher health standards. For example, increased incentives for small businesses operating in a more open market should generate an active trade in sanitation and water-supply components, operation and maintenance tools and equipment, and solid-waste management equipment. There are openings for initiatives in appropriate technologies for small-scale industries based in the post-1988 peripheral resettlement areas where the needs fortnight income-generating linkages are critical.



Japan International Cooperation Agency, “The Project for Updating the Strategic Urban Development Plan of the Greater Yangon: FINAL REPORT I”, February 2018, 1000038957_01.pdf (

Standley, Terry, and David Etherton. 1991. Human settlements sector review: Union of Myanmar. Nairobi: United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat).

Seekins, Donald M. “The State and the City: 1988 and the Transformation of Rangoon.” Pacific Affairs 78, no.2 (2005): 257-75.

NWE, Than Than. “Yangon: The Emergence of a New Spatial Order in Myanmar’s Capital City.” Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 13, no. 1 (1998): 86-113. Accessed December 16, 2020.

Thida Htoo. “An Analysis of Resettlement Program ( Case Study: Dagon Myothit and Ayemyathaya Myothit).” Master diss., School of Public Policy and Management, KDI., 2001.




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