Govt Unveiled Roads Constructed by Locals on Sunday in Chin State
16 April 2012: The government of Chin State yesterday inaugurated a new ‘Saisihchuak’ road, mostly funded and constructed by local villagers, in an official ceremony held at Thau of Thantlang Township.
Chief Minister Pu Hung Ngai cut the ribbon in a Sunday ceremony to officially open the road, estimated to be about 68 miles long from Hakha town, connecting Chin State of Burma and Mizoram State of India.
A community leader from Thantlang told Chinland Guardian: “The people are so happy that the ‘Saisichuak’ road is finally completed. But why did the opening ceremony have to be held on Sunday? Obviously, this is not something accidental but intentional.”
On 8 April this year which was Easter Sunday, Chief Minister Pu Hung Ngai held an official opening ceremony for the Mindat-Aukcheng Jeep road, also funded and constructed by local villagers, in Mindat Township, Chin State.
The newly completed ‘Saisihchuak’ road will pass by seven Vailamtlang villages from Thantlang town up to Bawinu River, an international border with Mizoram State of India.
Sources revealed that the road construction, financially supported by members of ‘Vailamtlang’ Development group from outside of Burma, was initiated and carried out on their own by local villagers of Vailamtlang, a group of villages located along Vailam mountain range.
In an announcement made in April last year, one of the village headmen said: “The government had signed an agreement for construction of the Saisihchuak road long time ago but they haven’t started yet until today and we don’t know when it will start.”
“Vailamtlang members living in foreign countries sent us money and we, local villagers, therefore began the construction on our own from 18 March 2010, with two bulldozzers rented from Mizoram State.”
On the Indian side in Mizoram State, an official opening ceremony was already held for the Sangau-Tipi road in May last year.
US-based Chin pastor and leader, Rev. C. Duh Kam, of Thau village, said early this year the road between Bawinu River and Thau village, which is about 12 miles, had already been constructed and the road between Hriangkhan and Thau widened, with financial support from Vailamtlang villagers residing in foreign countries.
Meanwhile, the 80-mile long Falam-Rih border road, which was re-opened in late 2009 after a closure of nearly 10 years by the military authorities, has been reconstructed on a self-help basis with support from individuals and Falam communities abroad under the leadership of the Falam Social Development Association (FSDA) early this year.
The government of Chin State is slammed for window-dressing rather than actually helping the local communities in their development work across Chin State, named the poorest among 14 states and divisions in Burma.
“They [government officials] just come, cut the ceremony ribbon and give instructions to us. They claim all the credits for the work though they provide no help. If something went wrong, they put blames on us. Their nature is still the same as the previous authorities,” complained the Chin community leader.
The government officials from Naypyidaw reportedly made a trip to Chin State to inspect the Saisihchuak road on a Christmas day last year.
The Thantlang-Saisihchuak road was first built in 1914 as a rough-hewn trail wide enough only for one mule to go during the British colonial periods.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang