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Local workers hit by Dawei project halt

WORKERS and local people dependent on construction of the Dawei deep-sea port and Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Myanmar's Taninthayi region are facing livelihood problems, after suspension of the projects late last year.

Italian-Thai Development (ITD) allowed Thai workers to return home and dismissed local workers after paying them compensation last November.

Ei Khaing, from Pu Gaw Zon village, who opened a restaurant at a market built by ITD in the project compound, said: "At the time the projects were suspended, business was very weak because f workers going home. "In April last year, there were more than 30 shops. But since the projects have been suspended, some have closed because business is bad. Now, only about 10 shops remain.

"Previously, we sold between 40,000-100,000 kyat worth of meals a day. But now, we can only sell about 10,000 kyat [Bt330] worth a day. Although the company provides electricity and water to us around the clock for free, we can't enjoy these things if we go back home. We are trying to earn a daily wage for our families," Ei Khaing said.

At present, there are about 480 houses being built in Bawa, a new town, as replacement homes for villagers evicted for the SEZ and related projects.

Some local people who previously lacked housing are living in homes in Bawa, but they face power and water problems.

A woman who relocated to Bawa said: "Previously, we worked at Charkhine beach in the project area as fisherwomen. Our houses were removed from the village for the project. But they [the authorities] replaced our houses with the new town.

"Now, I earn money by catching fish as my husband can't work as a fisherman, because the new town is about 16 kilometres from the old place."

ITD paid compensation for farmers who suffered submerged paddy fields, plus farms and houses located in the project areas for the deep-sea port and SEZ before the projects were suspended.

Now, the locals are having difficulty finding work as there are no places offering jobs. There are also social problems because the company has paid no further compensation.


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