Villagers along the Kawkareik – Aindu road which is now being upgraded to Asia Highway funded by the Asia Development Bank said that they want transparency and more understandable information on the project.
The Village Development Committee formed with representatives from the 24 villages affected by the project made the statement during a meeting on 15 June, 2017. The meeting was the third and was led by the Thwee Community Development Network, Karen Human Right Group, and the Karen Environment and Social Action Network in Tadar Oo village monastery in Hpa-an township.
Mahn Thein Zaw, in-charge of communication for the 24 villages’ development committee said. “We want them to tell us about their plans, policies on compensation, to give us the schedule of the implementation process, what they will do and when they plan to do it and to let the locals participate in the decision making process in regard to compensation.”
Officials from ADB said that implementation process of the road project will be designed to minimize danger on the road and at the same time locals affected by the project will be compensated with the shared government fund allocated for the project.
The 41.25 miles (66.4 kilometers) long Kawkareik-Aindu Highway project started in 2016 and is estimated to be finished by the end of September 2019. The main funding for the project composed of USD $100 million loan from the ADB, USD $20 million from the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, and USD $1.8 million from a shared government fund.
The local villagers are demanding transparency in regards to information on the implementation process, compensation issues, management and accountability issues and the overall understandable information on both the positive and negative impacts of the project. Villagers claim that despite that measurements for the Highway were taken several times, no clear information on these issues were provided to the villagers.
Daw Nan Kyi from Kyon Doe village said that she is reluctant to farm on some parts of her land as the road marking construction poles have been placed inside her farmland.
“Even though they came and measured several times, we don’t know when the project will start, so we are unsure if we should begin farming on the land or not,” Daw Nan Kyi told Karen News. “We are a worried now because nothing about compensation has been discussed with us.”
Sources from the ADB told the local villagers during a meeting in May 2016, that the results from the measurement of the Highway project showed that some houses, farmlands and shops along the Highway project owned by 114 households would be affected.