The Reach of Rangoon River

Rangoon River

A boat ride across Rangoon River. (Photo: Hein Htet / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Named after the city that she curves around, Rangoon River contributes much to the day-to-day lives of more than 6 million people living in Burma’s biggest city and its neighboring areas.

As Rangoon’s only maritime gateway to the sea, the river is home to Burma’s largest ports, which handle about 90 percent of the country’s exports and imports. It also allows for the transportation of goods from Burma’s rice bowl in the Irrawaddy delta.

Many residents in Dala, a river town on the opposite side of Rangoon, take a ferry to work.

With no bridge to connect the former capital with its neighboring sleepy river town, crowds wait on the quay for ferries every morning. About 30,000 people rely daily on two government-owned ferries, the Kyan Sit Khar and Anawyahta, according to the state-owned Inland Water Transport firm. For commuters in a hurry, smaller wooden boats with onboard diesel engine are another option.

Apart from transportation, the river is a source of income for those living nearby, including fishermen. Divers also salvage sunken boats and ships near the confluence where the Bago and Rangoon rivers meet.

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