Myanmar Jidong Cement Company, a subsidiary of Chinese multinational giant Tangshan Jidong, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of cement, has countered claims that local communities in Karen State capital Hpa-an are opposed to their building a factory in the area, saying it has the support of the people, and that it intends building the facility as soon as it has approval from the Karen State government and the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).
In an article on 29 April, DVB reported that plans for a cement factory near Hpa-an had met with “stark opposition” and that the majority of locals had refused to sign an agreement indicating approval for the plant, which if constructed, could produce 5,000 tons of cement a day, the company says.
However, the director of Myanmar Jidong, Sai Myo Win, said the company had made an agreement with local communities in and around the proposed site at the village of Mikayin, close to Kyawpyin Mountain, about two miles from Hpa-an.
“We have the backing of the locals,” he told DVB. “Now, we are applying to the Karen State government. After it agrees, we will send an application to the MIC, and start construction of the factory after we receive permission.”
Sai Myo Win said the mountain where the factory is to be built is not in an area where people work for a living.
“No one is working on that mountain,” he said. “It is very steep, so no one goes there or grows anything. One group wrote that some locals rely on the bamboo trees and bamboo shoots for their livelihoods, but in fact there are no trees on the mountain.”
The company director suggested some “outside influences” had played a hand in turning a few local voices against the project, but that the majority of communities in the area appreciated the benefits the cement factory would bring.
He said the company promised that the project would be supervised to ensure it made minimal impact on the environment, and that the firm would provide electricity, a water supply and schools to local villages.
Sai Myo Win added that Myanmar Jidong Cement Company had reached an agreement in March with the 1st Brigade of the Karen National Union to construct the factory.