Have Nail bag will travel


    Mawlamyine, Myanamr

  • Project Date

    18th November 2016

This is a Lidoran saying dating back some 30 years to when I first hit the roofing game. The question in this case is how far will I travel? Well I can now say at least 12 hours in a jumbo jet. This time no nail bag required, just 30 years of knowledge regarding asbestos removal and re roofing. To cut to the chase I was contacted by the World Monument Fund to see if I was interested in a consultants role in Myanmar (formerly Burma). I am always up for an adventure and I hate regrets so I jumped out the opportunity. The brief was to inspect a church roof on the First Judson Baptist Church in Mawlamyine Myanmar and confirm the sheeting did contain asbestos, then submit a proposal as to the best practices for its safe replacement. While in Myanmar, I was to be part of the team and deliver some education and training in relation to asbestos, its dangers and how to handle the deadly material. I was but one part of a team that was assembled from all corners of the world. The project manager was Jeff Alan, who works for the World monument fund out of New York. Jeff is a very interesting character who spends half the working year based in Cairo managing restoration projects in Egypt and the other half bouncing around such interesting places as Babylon via Baghdad. Project architects were Thierry Grandin, a French man, and Aung Soe Myint, a local of Myanmar. Thierry has worked with Jeff on many international project and he too is an interesting chap. Now based but exiled from Turkey for being himself, he has a purposeful nomadic existence traveling the world rescuing world monuments. Lastly, but by no means least, was the good doctor Ken Takahashi of Japan, a former Director of the World Health Organisation and now the new head of the Asbestos Disease Research Instituted based in Concord Hospital Sydney. Ken's specialty is asbestos related disease. If I may say so, a powerful team with an amazing knowledge base. Mawlamyine is a 6 hour drive by bus, mainly on the wrong side of the road with head on traffic the norm from Yangon the capital. If the asbestos does not kill you, the bus trip may. On arrival at the church the good doctor and myself made our way through an opening in the wall more suited for men half our age. Arriving on the roof it was easy to confirm we were dealing with asbestos - luck I guess or we would have been back on the bus and heading for the airport. The minster gathered his flock the next day and Ken and myself went to work educating the congregation on the dangers of asbestos and how the church roof replacement could be carried out safely. With this all done, the following day we headed back to Yangon where the group presented our findings and proposals to the Myanmar Engineering Society. With international media on hand, the first ever asbestos awareness seminar was delivered. Next step is the funding of the replacement works and general church refurbishment, which Jeff is working on. All going to plan, we will be back this October to set up the project, engage contractors and some more training for the local work force. Then during the dry season, January 2018, we will head back for some hands-on supervision of the works.  


Jeff Allen is World Monuments Fund’s Program Director for Myanmar covering the First Baptist Church of Mawlamyine and Shwe-nandaw Kyaung in Mandalay projects. He specializes in managing field projects that contain community components, especially those aimed at building the capacity of local heritage professionals to encourage project sustainability, and expanded social impact for greater meaning. He carries a project portfolio mainly partnering World Monuments Fund with U.S. State Department Ambassadors Fund for Culture Preservation assistance. Aung Soe Myint is a Yangon-based architect who focuses on heritage and recycling building materials. Besides working for United Nations agencies since 2009, he designed Nga Laik Kan Thar Eco Resort near Naypyitaw by disassembling old Burmese village farmhouses and reconstructing them at the present resort location. Presently he is undertaking Bago Yoma Eco Resort, a project near Pyay, and reconstruction of a colonial-era residential building from Yangon moved to Shan State at Pinlaung. A.S. Myint will be leading World Monuments Fund’s restoration activities at First Baptist Church, Mawlamyine. Philip Bamford is Director of Lidoran Group in Sydney, Australia. Lidoran is highly experienced in asbestos roofing removal, and has over 25 years proven record. Adhering to the highest possible service and workmanship standards, their reputation in the industry is well known. In addition to being a licensed for asbestos removal specialist, Lidoran excels in roofing replacement services. Mr. Bamford will be assessing, recommending and guiding First Baptist Church, Mawlamyine on the process of removing asbestos roof sheeting according to international safety standards, and on replacement roofing materials. At the workshop he will present asbestos-removal case studies and recommendations for First Baptist Church. Thierry Grandin is head of TGA, based out of Aleppo, Syria (temporarily relocated to Istanbul, Turkey). After decades of conservation work on historic buildings in Aleppo, Architect Grandin presently consults with World Monuments Fund on projects in Iraq, Libya and Tunisia. He was also responsible for the initial January-March 2016 survey and condition assessment of First Baptist Church, Mawlamyine completed with Myanmar engineers from World Monuments Fund’s office in Mandalay. Another outcome of their collaboration is the detailed sets of architectural drawings. Mr. Grandin’s present role is to assist in defining interventions in Mawlamyine and present First Baptist Church’s condition assessment at the workshop. Saw Htwe Zaw is a structural engineer and a Central Executive Committee member of Myanmar Engineering Society. He is also a board member of Yangon Heritage Trust and has involved in structural intervention works for several old buildings, monuments and Pagodas in Myanmar. U Saw Htwe Zaw conducted the structural engineering assessment of First Baptist Church, Mawlamyine, mainly focused on foundations and roof support. At the workshop he will present his work that supports forthcoming rehabilitation efforts on the building. Ken Takahashi is a physician epidemiologist in the field of occupational/public health serving as Professor at the Department of Environmental Epidemiology, and Director of the International Center, University of Occupational and Environmental Health (UOEH) in Kitakyushu City, Japan. He is appointed by the WHO Director-General to the International Health Regulations’ Roster of Experts on Chemical Safety. He is widely published internationally on his specialty of asbestos-related diseases (ARD), particularly as they apply to Southeast Asia. Dr. Takahashi’s role at the workshop is to explain the dangers of asbestos and its health implications for the general public, particularly those who come in contact with its building materials. Tim Webster is a Yangon-based photographer and writer whose work focuses on cultural and environmental themes. Specializing in existing conditions, photographic records and environmental portraiture, his recent book Yangon Echoes Inside heritage homes combines depictions with first person accounts of people who inhabit the city’s architectural legacy. World Monuments Fund asked Mr. Webster to undertake a basic photographic survey of First Baptist Church and its congregation for project public relations purposes that may be further developed in the future. Examples will be shown at the Asbestos Building Materials Workshop. Wai Yar Aung was a graduate in engineering at West Yangon Technological University, and presently a master student concerned with construction management engineering at Yangon Technological University. He is also a member of the Myanmar Engineering Society and a master student in United Nations University-Grant for Global Sustainability (UNU-GGS) Joint Research Project. Wai Yar Aung will briefly present his research collected on the asbestos building material industry active in Myanmar until 1993.

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