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USDA intensifies organizational work

Rangoon, New Delhi (Mizzima) – The junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) has been intensifying organizational and outreach work in the greater Rangoon area since early this year, claim local residents.

In 2009, USDA members in Rangoon carried out work in laying concrete, establishing funeral service associations, eye testing, medical clinics, tuition, extending loans and digging drainage – all at no additional charge.usda-wide-confrence1

Now, they are mending and renovating houses of poor people in 10 Rangoon townships: South Dagon satellite town, South Okkalapa, North Okkalapa, Thingagyun, Shwepyitha, Hlaingtharya, Dawpon, Thaketa, Mayangon and Kyimyindine.

"We are free of charge rebuilding houses for people living hand-to-mouth in 10 townships in Rangoon Division. Each house costs between 700,000 to 800,000 kyats (1 USD - 1,000 kyat)," a USDA member of South Dagon Satellite Township reported.

However, in Hlaingthayar Township, home owners, who are predominantly USDA members themselves, must repay the cost of building repairs at a rate of 100 kyats per month.

"We give priority to local people who cannot afford to mend their houses, local residents, USDA members and those who really cannot afford to rebuild their houses. They must repay 100 kyats per month until their payments cover the entire loan of 500,000 kyats for the house,” an official of the Hlaingtharyar Township USDA told Mizzima.

Construction of 10 houses each in South Dagon Satellite Township and the village of Seikyi Umya Nga Zin in Kyimyindine Township, across the Rangoon River, have been completed and another round of 10 houses each in other townships will soon be implemented, a member of the Rangoon Division USDA related.

Owners of the houses reportedly had to sign a pledge not to sell their houses in their lifetime.

"Our house is ten feet by forty feet on a leased plot under my name and without mortgage or resale. So it is free of any ownership dispute. They said that the house rebuilt by them costs about 700,000 kyats at market price. It is built with a brick foundation, and half of the wall is built with brick too. The other part is covered with wire mesh without doors or windows. Previously, my entire wall was built with bamboo, so we felt secure. Now, there is wire mesh without doors and windows, so we feel insecure in staying in this house,” an owner of such a house in South Dagon Satellite Township explained to Mizzima.

usda-wide-confrence2Rangoon mayor Brigadier General Aung Thein Lin is a member of the USDA Central Executive Committee and also the Rangoon Division USDA in-charge. According to local residents, he has prioritized his USDA activities over municipal work in the city, focusing on organizational work among the people.

The junta established the USDA in 1993 as a social organization, but it has consistently been accused of neglecting community needs beneficial to the common people while also being employed to crackdown on political opposition forces. Observers see the organization as the main supporter in approving the 2008 constitution.

Chairman of the Thai-based Network for Democracy and Development (NDD), Khin Ohnmar, views the current reconstruction of houses in Rangoon suburbs as related to the planned general election.

"It is related with the planned general election in 2010. Even though they [junta] will not run in the upcoming election under their own name, we see signs of them running under the guise of the social organization. So, they are doing such community work at this time to win the people's hearts,” she assessed. 

Last Updated ( Monday, 18 January 2010 18:52 )  

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