The Union government will build 65 telecommunications towers in six of Chin State’s nine townships in order to improve the internet access and telephone service in the region, state government representatives have said.
According to Chin State’s transportation and roads minister Shui Htee O, the towers will be constructed this financial year.
“The Union minister and deputy minister told us that the Union government would build 65 mobile communication towers. It’s essential for this to be done in our Chin State,” he told Khonumthung.
Nineteen towers are reportedly proposed for Paletwa Township, 18 in Matupi, nine each in Tonzang and Kanpetlet, six in Mindat, and four in Thantlang.
Shui Htee O said that ongoing conflict between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army is a concern regarding the construction of the towers in Paletwa Township, which has seen heavy fighting.
“They are worried about building communication towers in Paletwa because of clashes. I told them that clashes have occurred in the western part of Paletwa. So communication towers can be freely built in the eastern part of Paletwa,” the transportation minister explained.
While locals in Matupi told Khonumthung that they welcomed the benefits of easier communication through improved access to phone service and internet, reports of telecommunications towers being misused in conflict areas have also raised concern.
In March, the UN confirmed a local investigation revealing that a telecommunications tower in northern Rakhine State operated by the Norwegian company Telenor was used by snipers who fired on Rohingya villagers fleeing military violence in August 2017.
Another tower, owned by the Burmese operator MPT, was also used by the military in this way, the UN said.