On the 4th of May 2019, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Lailenpi, in the Chin State of Myanmar, to mark the start of an airstrip building project. MAF, in partnership with Health & Hope (H&H), the Department of Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and Petram Design International, have taken on the task of building an airstrip in an area where travel by road is unpredictable for 7 months a year due to monsoon rains.
Over the last couple of years, initial surveys had been conducted, plans and partnerships drawn out, permission for the airstrip granted, construction plans approved, and markers for construction set. Finally, the digging of the ground was set to begin.
To celebrate the start of this new initiative, MAF Singapore board members and Deeram Khong headed to Lailenpi to attend the Lailenpi Airstrip Groundbreaking Ceremony.
Their journey began with a 1 hour and 25 minutes flight from Yangon to Bagan, a 9 hour drive to Gangaw, the border town of Chin State and Magway Region, a rest for the night, and a final 11 hour drive the next day from Gangaw to Lailenpi.
On arrival on the 3rd of May, the Lailenpi community gathered to greet the MAF team and hosted a beautiful welcome ceremony.
Dinner with State Government Ministers
The official groundbreaking ceremony was held on the 4th of May.
10 metal aircrafts were prepared and the entourage led by H.E Salai Luai Lian laid down the aircrafts to mark Lailenpi airstrip groundbreaking ceremony.
In a speech to all those gathered for the ceremony, H.E Salai Lian Luai, the Chief Minister of Chin State said:
“On behalf of Chin State Government, I would like to say “thank you” to MAF. The Chin State Government appreciate and welcome heartily MAF’s assistance on this project.
Once the Lailenpi airstrip is finished and the flight operation starts – travelling into this area will be much easier and this airstrip will be very important to us. Not only in Lailenpi, we would also like to have airstrips in other areas throughout Chin State. I would like to suggest and request MAF and other like-minded organizations to help constructing airstrips in above mentioned townships.
Today is one of the historical days in Chin State. I think this project is the very first project for MAF in Myanmar (not only in Chin), therefore if MAF could expand their work in other states and regions as well, it will help our country’s transport sector development."
Then, U Min Lwin, the Director General of Department of Civil Aviation, in his speech, remarked:
“The Lailenpi airstrip will play an important role for many purposes, especially to commute quicker to and from communities within and beyond Chin State. In Myanmar we officially have 69 airports and airstrips and there’s none in Chin State. The stats has always been a downside of the Civil Aviation Authority and country Myanmar. But, now we have Falam airport project by the Union Govt’s funding and Lailenpi airstrip project by MAF. I’m so glad and proud that Chin state will have Falam airport and Lailenpi airstrip during our tenure.
Thank you very much for the hospitality we received from the Lailenpi community. I will never forget that.”
The MAF Singapore team brought two customised watches for the ceremony and Alan Chan (Chairman of MAF Singapore Board) presented the watches to H.E. Salai Lian Luai and U Min Lwin.
It was a special day for all those involved in the project and for the Lailenpi community.
After the ceremony, the Construction Manager, Terry Fahey, walked the MAF Singapore team through the project site to give them a better understanding of the work that needs to be done. The contractor company has been making good progress on the project since then.