RANGOON — Burma’s first public bus company, which is expected to launch routes in Rangoon late this month, has so far raised 3.8 billion kyats (US$2.9 million) in a sale of shares to fund the first phase of the transportation service, according to an official.
The project will introduce a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to Rangoon, aimed at reducing traffic congestion in the commercial capital. The rollout is being divided into phases, and the first phase of the project is projected to require a total of 25 billion kyats in capital. Through a public-private partnership, the government will provide 10 billion kyats, a 40 percent stake, with the remaining 15 billion kyats available to shareholders.
Maung Aung, an adviser to the Ministry of Commerce who leads a committee responsible for forming the public company, said a total of 580 people had bought shares valued at 1.3 billion kyats as of Friday. Five private companies, described by Maung Aung as “founders” of the new bus company—Diamond Star, Shwe Taung, Shwe Than Lwin, Zeya & Associates, and Fisheries and Marine Products 2000 Ltd.—have put down a total of 2.5 billion kyats so far, and will ultimately each hold 2 billion kyats in shares.
Shares for the remaining 5 billion kyats stake went on sale beginning Nov. 3 and will be sold until the end of this month.
“We are selling each share for 100,000 kyats until the end of this month. But if we don’t get the required amount, we will extend the period of sale or the founders will close the shortfall by buying the remaining shares,” Maung Aung said, adding that preparations for the bus service’s launch were already underway, including importing new buses from China, Korea and Sweden, preparing a ticketing system, recruiting drivers and setting up new bus stops.
Currently, hundreds of small, private companies operate thousands of daily buses throughout the city of more than 5 million residents. Many of the companies use old Japanese Hino Motors buses that 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 the Rangoon Division Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles.