New seaport road in Ye Township leaves villagers upset over land grabbing and unfair compensation by Southern Myanmar Development Co. Ltd.

November 28, 2018

WCRP: Landowners in Ye Township, Mon State are upset with the Southern Myanmar Development Co. Ltd. over reported land grabbing and unfair compensation. The company is constructing a road to a seaport project between Nit Karen and Tha Pyay Thit villages, leaving many villagers unhappy.

My brother saw that they have planted red flags on our farm and he told me about it. They should not do it. Even though we were in the farm, they did not tell us and measured our land. The next day, they told us about it and said that they will look into the price of the plantation. Nit Karen’s village administrator, U Than Naing, threatened me, saying that my plantation is very close to the company’s area and if I did not sell it and accept the compensation that they will pay me, the company might be able to confiscate my land. Then he told me that if the company confiscated my land, they [village administration] could do nothing for me,” said Daw Kyin Hla, from Nit Karen village.

In October, approximately six people, including the former village administrator, current village administrator, and staff from the Land Records Department went to rubber plantations in Tha Pyay Thit village without any notification to the owners, and measured and planted red flags on the land. 

In addition to lack of free, prior, and informed consent about the project, villagers also claim Southern Myanmar Development Co. Ltd. are offering below market prices for some villagers’ land. According to land owners from Tha Pyay Thit village, some are refusing the company’s offers as they are only paying 7,000,000 kyat (US $4,430.00) per acre, compared to 8,000,000 kyat (US $5,063.00) per acre in Nit Karen village.

We want to request that the company should pay the same price that they pay the land owners in Nit Karen village. If they agree, we have nothing to say about it. I don’t understand why they pay 8,000,000 kyat to Nit Karen villagers and only pay us 7,000,000 kyat per acre. We cannot accept it,” said U Win Tun, a rubber plantation owner from Tha Pyay Thit village.

Daw Kyin Hla from Nit Karen village continued, “The rubber trees from some plantations are young and if we have to sell it, we would feel bad to cut the trees down. For instance, our plantation is not for selling and if we have to sell it to the company, we would not sell if they don’t pay us 8,000,000 kyat per acre as compensation.”

The Nit Karen village administrator explained, “Ten years ago, a monk constructed a new road and the land owners donated 30 feet of their land for free. Then, the company [Southern Myanmar Co. Ltd.] expanded the road again [in October/November 2018] and they gave compensation to the land owners. However, the price of plantations in our area never got to 8,000,000 kyat per acre. The company only paid 6,000,000 kyat (US $3,797.00) per acre, but we requested 7,000,000 kyat per acre and they agreed to pay it, but they could not pay for every owner such high prices.”

The company ended up paying 8,000,000 kyats per acre to the land owners from Nit Karen village as they only had to expand from the old road, but they reduced the compensation to 7,000,000 kyat per acre for the land owners from Tha Pyay Thit village, because they have to dig along the rubber plantations for the new road construction [instead of just extending the width of an existing road]. However, some owners from the Tha Pyay Thit village do not accept this compensation and they are requesting the same price as Nit Karen village.

Land owner Ko Min Thein Tun said, “The owners who agree with the 7,000,000 kyat per acre, those all are the relatives of the former village administrator from our village. We think there may be some corruption in this case. There are about three or four of remaining land owners who do not agree with the compensation.”

According to U Chit Tin, the current village administrator from Tha Pyay Thit village, there are 38 land owners who have been affected by the road construction and 34 owners have accepted the compensation. However, the four remaining land owners have not accepted the compensation unless the company pays them 8,000,000 kyat per acre.

The new seaport road runs along a 3-mile stretch and is 60 feet wide from Nit Karen village to Tha Phya Thit village.







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