The Irrawaddy

Chief Minister Absent as Rangoon Parliament Discusses YBS Shortcomings

Rangoon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein arrives in Rangoon’s Thakhin Mya Park before boarding a YBS bus on Jan 17, one day after its launch. (Photo: Myo Min Soe/ The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Rangoon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein was conspicuously absent from Rangoon divisional parliament on Monday as lawmakers’ called for a transparent review of the Yangon Bus Service (YBS).

Twenty six lawmakers discussed Insein constituency lawmaker U Wai Phyo Han’s review proposal that also charged U Phyo Min Thein to respond to criticism of the service as ill-equipped to serve Rangoon’s commuters, submitted on April 6, before the Parliament’s Thingyan recess.

Several lawmakers, including U Yan Aung of Mingalar Taung Nyunt constituency, noted U Phyo Min Thein excused himself from both parliamentary sessions, claiming official duties elsewhere, and accused the minister of disrespecting Parliament.

U Phyo Min Thein’s official Facebook page displayed no engagements on Monday until he met Vice President U Henry Van Thio at Yangon International Airport at 5 p.m.

On Monday, regional lawmaker Daw Kyi Pyar of Kyauktada Township constituency urged the divisional government to rethink the Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA) and to consult experts experienced in public transport.

She requested transparency over government and company profits from YBS, decried the government’s lack of preparation and consultation before introducing the new system, and said views of experts, lawmakers, and stakeholders were ignored.

“Policy change should be realistic,” she said.

Lawmaker U Than Naing Oo cited a cabinet member who proudly said the National League for Democracy-led government was making 600 million kyats each month through YRTA while the previous Ma Hta Tha organization, formally known as Yangon Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles, paid only 6 billion kyats to the government between 1962 and its abolishment last year.

U Than Naing Oo noted that under the previous bus system passengers would pay 200 kyats for a long bus ride, but after the YBS reshuffle long routes were changed and commuters now take two or more buses to reach downtown.

Thus, YBS could be expected to make 600 million kyats per day from 2.5 million commuters.

“This news came as the Rangoon public faced inconvenience on the roads. I was really shocked by the government’s attitude,” U Than Naing Oo said, adding that public transportation should not be about profits but serving commuters.

The regional government’s slogan of “YBS for the public” had changed to “YBS for public disappointment” among residents, lawmaker of Dagon constituency No. 2 U Kyaw Zeya joked.

He said Rangoon Parliament is likely to approve the YBS proposal and the government must listen.

“The voice of Parliament should not disappear into the air,” he said.

The chief minister will address Parliament on YBS in Thursday’s session, according to lawmakers.