Zwekabin Mountain – $20 million Cable Car Project to Make Life Easier for Pilgrims

Monks and a Malaysian construction plan to install a cable car on Karen State’s famous and symbolic, Zwekabin Mountain.

A Pagoda at the top of Zwekabin Mountain, near Hpa-an Town, is visited each day by hundreds of Buddhists pilgrims and tourists who make the arduous three to four hour trek each day.

The cable car project organizing committee said that it is planned that the development will start in October, will be Burma’s first and will meet international standards.

The engineers and technicians will be from Malaysia and survey of the project has started at Lonemani garden – a Buddhist temple compound located at the base of Zwekabin Mountain.

Saw Aung Myint, in-charge of the projects information and communications committee spoke to Karen News.

“We have begun ground measurement as a first step. In October, the technicians from Malaysia will come and examine whether the earth and monolith are cracked – the construction contract will then be signed.”

The project is led by U Pyinyar Wontha, who is based in Penang Malaysia, the Zwekabin Temple monk, U Kawi Daza and U Panyinna, an Abbot from Thonehtat Kyaung. A Malaysia incorporated company, Special Methods and Engineering Techniques (SDN BHD) would also be involved in the project.

Zwekabin Temple’s head resident monk, U Kawi Daza, said that the project is estimated to cost USD $20 million. U Kawi Daza said that all the projects specialist materials will be imported from Switzerland, the US and Australia. U Kawi Daza said funds from donors in Rangoon, Mandalay, Taunggyi and Hpa-an have already been received. U Kawi Daza said money received includes a donation of USD $10,000 from the Karen National Union’s chairman Saw Mutu Say Poe and that the Karen State government is also planning to donate to the project.

U Kawi Daza explained to Karen News why building a cable car on Zwekabin Mountain is needed.

“It is intended for the people who come and worship at the Zwezabin Mountain pagoda. It will make it easy for them to reach the mountaintop in a short time. The cable car can transport 40 people at a time.”

According to engineer project details, the diameter of the planed cable is 38 millimeter and it is estimated to last for 15 years. The project is expected to take one and half years to build.

Despite the fact that the cable car project is about to start, villagers in the Zwekabin Mountain area told Karen News that they did not know much about the project.

Saw Nyo Thein, the village administrative secretary of Tawpone village that is close to Zwekabin Mountain told Karen News.

“Regarding the cable car project, there has not been any discussions held with local villagers nor has there been any collection of donations from the villagers. They [project managment] said that villagers would be included in the next phase.”

The cable car organizing committee records state that a press conference was held with three monks involved in the project and two Malaysian technicians at the Mahar Thanti Thukha Monastery in Rangoon on July 25, 2013.

Zwekabin Mountain is located seven miles south of Hpa-an Town and is 2,734 feet above sea level. The mountain range runs 20 miles from north to south. It now takes pilgrims three to four hours by foot to climb up and down to the pagoda at the mountain top.

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