Karen State: Zwekabin Mountain Cable Car Project Starts In February – Armed Groups to Profit

The installation of cable cars on Karen State’s famous and symbolic, Zwekabin Mountain is to start in February after investing companies have signed agreement on January 12, 2017.

The two companies who will run the projects are the Zwekabin Myay Development Company that was founded and managed by followers of the Zwekabin Temple monk, U Kawi Daza and Chit Lin Myaing Toyota Company, chaired by the government’s militia leader, Colonel Saw Chit Thu, the senior advisor and general secretary of the Karen State Border Guard Force’s central command.

Colonel Saw Chit Thu said he approached the Zwekabin Myay Development Company about investing in the project as a partner and an agreement was reached.

Speaking to Karen news, Colonel Saw Chit Thu said.

“I wanted to take part in this project and now we are part of it. Since 2016, we have contacted engineers and technicians for the cable project and have done all the survey and measurement. The total cost was estimated at USD $12 million. After we have signed this agreement, we are going to sign a contract with Japanese and Australian engineers and technicians in February. The ground work will start after that.”

Colonel Saw Chit Thu said that although the agreement was signed in his Chit Lin Myaing Company’s name, he is signing this on behalf of the Karen Armed Groups Unity Committee, a committee founded to work for unity among Karen armed groups with representatives from Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), KNU/KNLA Peace Council and the Karen Border Guard Force. Colonel Saw Chit Thu said that profit from the project will be distributed to all Karen armed groups.

According to the agreement, the Chit Lin Myaing Company is entitled to 75% of the profit while the Zwekabin Myay Development Company gets the other 25%. The agreement states that Chit Lin Myaing Company will invest in all the installation project cost while the other party needs to deal with the provision of land for the project. The construction period is planned to be 18 months.

U Aung Maunn, secretary of the Zwekabin Cable Car project organizing committee spoke to Karen News about the agreement.

“At first, U Pyinyar Wontha, who is based in Penang Malaysia, initiated the project and planned to build it with donations. When Penang Sayadaw couldn’t make it back to Burma, the situation changed. However, as we are implementing the project, we were approached by Colonel Chit Thu who said that the Karen armed groups would work together on the project, so we agreed to continue the project with them.”

A Pagoda that sits 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 hours trek each day. There is now a basic cable lines installed to transport goods and materials to the top of the mountain.

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.

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