Rangoon Govt Invites Private Investment in Public Bus Company

By San Yamin Aung 5 May 2015

RANGOON — The Rangoon Division government on Monday launched an initiative to set up a US$25 million public bus service company that would improve major bus lines in Rangoon, Burma’s biggest city.

On Tuesday, an official said they had already received pledges for more than half of $15 million in private funding shares required for the venture.

“It seems like we will not need to sell the shares to the public for a long time and it will be sold out quickly. Others also made proposals, but mainly four top businessmen proposed to buy nearly $8 million of the shares,” Maung Aung, an advisor with the Ministry of Commerce, told The Irrawaddy.

Myint Swe, the Rangoon Division chief minister, invited shareholders at a ceremony on Monday to invest in establishing the company, which is yet to be named, and he offered shares that are being sold at $100 each.

His government is putting up $10 million, or 40 percent, of the capital required for the implementation of the first phase of the project. Official sales of the shares have yet to start.

The company will have a seven-member board of directors, with three appointed government officials and four private sector shareholders.

Many businessmen and directors from the country’s top businesses, including FMI group, Sakura Co. Ltd, Htoo Company, Shwe Than Lwin Company, Max Myanmar, and KBZ bank, attended the event.

Maung Aung declined to reveal the names of the four businesses that had pledged to buy a total of $8 million in shares in the public bus company.

Currently, hundreds of small, private companies operate thousands of daily buses throughout the city of some 5.4 million residents. Many of the companies use old Japanese Hino Motors buses, which are often crammed with passengers and lack air-conditioning.

Some 2.2 million people make use of 365 bus lines across the city that are operated by companies that own some 6,000 buses, 4,000 of which are deployed every day, according to Hla Aung, chairman of the Rangoon Region Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles.

The Rangoon Division government would require the new company to operate new model buses, made in 2010 or more recently, that are left-hand drive, have air-con, a ticketing system and employ a driver on a monthly salary.

“We will start with between 60 to 100 buses in phase 1 within four or five months and expand it later,” Maung Aung said, adding that the first new bus line would run from Pyay Road to Kabaraye Pagoda Road.

He said current, smaller bus operators could also buy shares in the new company or participate by committing an in kind contribution if they owned a new model bus.

“The big businessmen are interested in it more, but we also invite the current bus owners and drivers too and we will wait for them. They are interested to invest with their buses. We will accept [their offer] if their buses match our criteria,” Maung Aung said.