Fund misused, Arakanese continue suffering from erratic power supply

( Yangon, 13 May 2013): The residents of Kyauk Pru locality in Arakan province continue suffering from erratic electricity supply, even though the concerned authority receives around US$ 10 million for power sector development from the Chinese state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).


It was revealed in a press meet, held by Southeast Asia Gas Pipeline Company Ltd. and Southeast Asia Crude Oil Pipeline Company Ltd at Sedona Hotel of Rangoon on Friday, where the company disclosed that the CNPC has already provided US$ 10 million for the improvement of power sector in Kyauk Pru region.

The responsible officers from both the companies, which own major stakes in Shwe gas project and take the responsibility to construct a crude oil and a gas pipeline under the project, also briefed the media about CNPC’s contributions of another US$ 4 million for the development of  education and health sectors in the western State of Burma.

U Ba Shin, a lawmaker of people’s parliament in Kyauk Pru township, said that the supply of electricity is controlled by a private company in Kyauk Pru locality with the help of local power committee.

“We the residents of Kyauk Pru locality have to pay 500 kyat per unit for power but the price for the same quantity of electricity across Burma is only 50 kyat. Moreover, the residents in Kyauk Pru receive electricity only for five hours per day from 6 pm to 11 pm,” he added.

He regretted that there is no transparency and accountability maintained in the fund allocation and utilization in the township.

The authority in  Kyauk Pru township has however erected new electric pillars with new wires, but the residents still express their resentments about the power supply for their private utilization.

Ko Win Aung, an activist of Shwe Gas Movement, also raised the issue of  transparency and accountability in the Shwe gas based projects in Arakan. He alleges that the project does not match the international standard.

“We do not know which ministry or which department managed to get and use the US$ 10 million for the improvement of electricity supply in kyauk pru region. No one in fact knows how much electricity is supplied to the area and whether it is up to the demands of the residents or not,” added Aung.

Wong Aung, though  appreciates funds for social development by the Chinese controlled company,  but expresses dissatisfaction that it is too small amount for the  cause. He compared this fund with a seed of jujube in the great Himalayan Mountain.

Shwe gas project is a joint venture of CNPC and  Myanmar oil & gas enterprises. The proposed oil and gas pipeline runs from Kyaukpyu township in the west coast of Burma to Kunming of  south China, thus enabling  the energy starved region to maintain communication to Burma’s offshore Shwe gas field.

The pipeline project, which is expected to be operational later this year, passes through 21 townships, including several conflict-ridden ethnic areas in northern Burma, and spans 800 km (500 miles) across the country.

The Chinese government had signed an agreement with Burma’s former military regime in 2008 to lay the Shwe gas pipeline across Burma. The central Burma government is understood to earn about US $29 billion from the project over the next three decades.

Meanwhile, thousands of villagers living on both  sides of the pipeline have complained of land confiscation, forced labour and an increased military presence in their localities. Various activist groups including the Thailand based Shwe gas movement have already raised voices for the affected villagers lobbying with international communities.