Dec 11, 2007 (DVB), Government officials in Hakha township, Chin state, have been collecting money from local residents to fund a highway project and forcing those who cannot pay to work on the highway.
Township residents said that village and ward Peace and Development Council officers in Hakha township were demanding the money or labour, and those who worked were given no assistance with travel or expenses.
A local resident said that the project had been making slow progress and costs were rising.
"The cost of the highway project has now reached 50 million kyat already, and only about 3 miles of highway have been completed so far," he said.
Residents have been ordered to pay between 5,000 and 10,000 kyat, depending on their means, but those who are unable to pay are forced to contribute their labour.
Workers have complained that they have to travel on foot for two days to get to the highway construction site and must stay working there for seven days at a time.
The authorities do not provide any food, transportation, accommodation or health insurance for the workers, who must carry their food and camping materials with them when they walk to the site.
Hakha PDC officials refused to comment on the claims.
Residents of Hakha and Mantaw townships have previously reported extortion and forced labour by government officials in the construction of the highway.
Reporting by Naw Say Phaw