Myanmar’s main city, Yangon, has the framework to be a sustainable city, but there are three areas that need to be developed.
The director of a Canadian urban planning firm, Robert Marshall, has said that in order for Yangon to develop its sustainability, the railways need to be redeveloped, water bus transport improved and pedestrian walkways installed through the business district areas.
He was speaking at the Yangon Sustainable Development conference, held at Sule Shangrila and said: “Although Yangon, in its current form, is a green and liveable city in Asia, it needs to become a sustainable city.”
Attracting more tourists
Robert praised Yangon’s green city credentials but was clear that, in order to be sustainable, certain steps need to be taken. He also suggested that there needs to be an increased focus on pedestrian areas in the city to attract more tourists. Officials should also look at upgrading streetscapes, street furniture, historic landmarks and parks.
One specific project mentioned was the construction of a walkway from Sule Pagoda to the ferry terminal. This would become a tourist attraction in Yangon’s downtown area, as well as making it more accessible for people on foot, therefore cutting down traffic.
Reconnecting the riverfront
Using the waterfront in this way and reconnecting the riverside will also make Yangon more sustainable.
He said: “Yangon should focus on the development potential of the waterfront and expanding the waterbus network… stations can create windows on the river and a new low-cost and low-impact transit system.”
Redeveloping the railroads with rapid transit tech, could also deal with many of the city’s accessibility and transport problems. Utilising historic transport infrastructure will mean the city can re-establish lost links between neighbourhoods and townships.
Revitalising colonial buildings
Yangon has many colonial buildings that could be redeveloped. Previously poor development decisions have meant the city missed out on regeneration. The time is now for the government to start up a specific urban planning project to address this.
The city and the country are developing fast in many ways, and making Yangon into a user friendly, accessible, modern city should be a priority.
Improving the transport issues that Yangon faces at the moment and properly using the already existing infrastructure could transform the city to one of the finest in Asia.
Working to become sustainable will improve tourism, citizen’s lives and the economy as a whole. Creating new green spaces, improving outside vistas and street scenery can only help the city move forwards into its new economic future.