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US to Help Myanmar Improve Highway Safety

The United States will help Myanmar improve the safety of the Yangon-Mandalay highway where hundreds of car accident cases have occurred over the past five years.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Construction signed a letter of agreement recently on this regard.

US architecture and engineering experts will train and mentor Ministry of Construction engineers and technicians in international highway safety standards as they construct safety enhancements along a ten-kilometre section of road.

This demonstration section, funded in cooperation with the US Government, will serve as a model for ongoing improvements implemented by the Ministry of Construction along the full length of the highway, the US Embassy in Yangon said in a statement.

“As the economy grows, transportation infrastructure will have to accommodate more trade and traffic,” said US Ambassador Derek Mitchell.

“But this issue is about more than economic development; it is about saving lives. I am pleased the United States will be able to improve a small section of the Yangon-Mandalay Highway, and work with the Ministry of Construction to help address very real concerns about safety standards.”

The Yangon-Mandalay Highway, which is the main ground route from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw and runs through the centre of the country, stretches 386 miles between Yangon, the country’s commercial centre, and Mandalay, a city of approximately one million people. Three thousand vehicles drive the highway every day.

Increased speed and a lack of standard highway safety measures have resulted in a disproportionately high number of vehicular fatalities on this road.

According to official statistics, during the five years from 2009 to 2014, over 700 highway accidents have claimed the lives of over 360 victims.

The agreement formalises a partnership that began with a preliminary safety survey in May 2013. At the request of the Union Government, USAID engineers assessed the design, traffic volume, vehicle speed, and existing safety measures along the entirety of the highway.

The assessment concluded that the most effective means to achieve scalable road safety improvements is through technical assistance and training on safety standards, bringing experience and best practices from the United States to help improve the safety and security of the country’s roads.

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