Asia Briefing: PM Group wins Mandalay project

PM Group to co-operate with Asia Development Bank

The Dublin-based engineering design, architecture, project and construction management firm PM Group has won a major contract with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Burma to prepare a development project to improve the urban environment and public health in the city of Mandalay.

Over the next 12 months, the PM Group project team, in association with the group’s French partners Safege consulting engineers, will prepare a detailed project to meet the urban infrastructure needs of Mandalay, Burma’s second- largest city.

"Mandalay is a very forward-looking city and the city's development in the future will focus on developing a sustainable clean, green and liveable city," the project director from PM Group, Trevor O'Regan, told Asia Briefing .

Programme of reforms
Burma's military junta, which renamed the country Myanmar in 1989, handed over power in early 2011 in limited elections and, since then, has embarked on a programme of reforms that has included freeing political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi.

The international community has responded by welcoming Burma cautiously back into the fold and the past three years have seen a major opening up of the southeast Asian nation. While it remains one of the poorest countries in Asia, there have been strong efforts to modernise the country.

A project team of 10 international consultants, comprising team members from Ireland, Britain, France and Australia, as well as 15 Burmese consultants, will help prioritise and identify project components for the ensuing investment project, prepare detailed cost estimates and look at the environmental and social soundness of any proposed project.

In order to meet the goal of developing a sustainable clean, green and liveable city, there is a need now for investment in urban infrastructure, including water supply, sanitation, drainage, wastewater, and solid waste, said O'Regan, who is also a director of the Asia Trade Forum (ATF) of the Irish Exporters Association.

The PM Group project team will put together over the next year, a new project that will invest in the urban infrastructure of Mandalay.

Urban services
The outcome will be improved access to sustainable urban services for the citizens of Mandalay, he said, including wastewater, solid waste and flood protection. "Climate change resilient designs will also be introduced in the project preparation," said O'Regan.

Mandalay is not only the economic and social centre of the central dry zone of the country, but also the trading hub connecting northern and southern parts of the country, China and India. It has a population of about 1.4 million, and it is expected that the urban population of Mandalay will continue to grow rapidly in future as the city is the main cultural, educational and economic hub of Upper Burma.

The project officially started last week, and is financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila. This is the Asian lender's first urban development project in Burma since the 1980s, and there was serious competition to win the contract.

In December, the ADB made a $60 million loan (€43.5 million) to help rehabilitate sections of the country’s power distribution network, the first project loan since re-engaging with Burma.

PM Group was set up in 1973 and has more than 2,000 experienced team members based in 18 locations worldwide, working with partners on complex engineering, architecture and technical consultancy projects. The group is currently working on projects in 30 countries throughout Europe, Asia, the US and the Middle East.

The official launch of the Mandalay project takes place today and will include representatives of the Mandalay City Development Corporation and the Asian Development Bank.

“According to a 2012 ADB study, Myanmar could follow Asia’s fast growing economies and expand at 7-8 per cent a year, become a middle-income nation, and triple per capita income by 2030 if it can surmount substantial development challenges by further implementing across-the-board reforms,” the ADB said in a statement.