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UK Aid and IMC team up to improve Yangon’s sewerage system

Within a UK Aid-funded project, an IMC-led team is providing recommendations for the rehabilitation of the sewerage system of Yangon’s downtown district, in Myanmar, for the benefit of over 300,000 residents.

Thursday 10 May 2018, Chris Davies

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has selected an IMC-led team, which also includes Satec, Royal HaskoningDHV and BAM Nuttall, to provide technical advice and recommendations for the rehabilitation of the sewer system of Yangon’s downtown district, in Myanmar.

Designed and installed in 1889 by British civil engineer Octavus Deacon Clark, the system relies on a network of pneumatic ejectors and air compressor stations that pump and move waste to Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC)’s wastewater treatment plant in Botahtaung.

Similar active systems can be found across the world in London’s House of Parliament, Cairo, Oman, Gibraltar, Bolivia and Porto.

Satec engineer assessing the quality of one of the 35 ejector pumps in downtown Yangon.
Satec engineer assessing the quality of one of the 35 ejector pumps in downtown Yangon.

While the pipework and pneumatic components have stood the test of time, the system is not working at full capacity because of equipment failures and breakages. Moreover, the population served by the system has increased from just 40,000 when it was installed to over 350,000 residents.

When installed over 130 years ago, Yangon had one of the best sewerage systems in the world. London and Yangon share similar systems, the only real difference is that London has been able to continually invest in their system. We are helping YCDC to consider their options.

– UK Ambassador to Myanmar, Mr Andrew Patrick

YCDC and IMC’s engineers have already held training in safety and emergency procedures. Over the last few weeks, the team has inspected the underground pneumatic ejectors, air compressor stations and force mains.

We are now helping YCDC to identify options for key repairs and the most cost-effective way to improve the sanitation network, ensuring a high standard of public health in downtown Yangon.

‘It is clear that YCDC Water and Sanitation teams are working hard to keep the system functioning but are battling with long-term underinvestment. They face challenges because of population growth and the fact that key components have been broken and have not been replaced’, state DFID infrastructure specialists. ‘In some cases, access is a problem because buildings and roads have been developed over the access holes. Our project will help YCDC manage the downtown sewerage system and to look at their options for long-term improvement.’

Cover photo: build-up of solid waste and abandoned sewers contaminating Yangon’s canal network.

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