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Squatters in Hlaing Tharyar township in Rangoon are rebuilding their huts alongside the Shwe Lin Pan Industrial Zone.
They were previously evicted from the site by the municipal department, but they haven’t been able to find anywhere else to live.
“We are in complete despair. It would cost about 30,000 kyat (US$30) to rent a place”, said a woman.
The squatters say that township officials told them to apply to resettle in vacant plots elsewhere, but THAT was easier said than done.
“We submitted applications and the township officials asked us to wait”, said one of the squatters. “After we were evicted, we asked the municipal authorities and the police where we should go. They said that only land that is not fenced is available for squatting. We had a discussion about what to do, and decided to come back here on Sunday, and begin reserving plots.”
The squatters say it’s very hard to find places to live since property prices are so high and they can’t afford the rent.
Another woman said: “Previously I rented a place in someone’s backyard where I had to pay a deposit for three months – some 90,000 kyat. It was too much for us to pay but we had no choice. We had to endure the stench of the sewage. The rent for the front yard was double – some 60,000 kyat per month. The landlord asked how many children I have and when I said ‘three’ he wasn’t so keen to have us.”
For the time being, no legal action has been brought against the squatters, and they remain resolute but desperate in the squalid camp.