Motorbike Driver Says Mon Police Requested Bribes

By Lawi Weng 14 February 2017

RANGOON — Some police officers in Mon State have been accused of petty corruption while enforcing local traffic laws.

Mon State authorities recently launched an effort to prevent motorbike taxi drivers from driving on the highway. But police officers, who are responsible for enforcing the policy, have started to demand payments from local drivers in Mudon Township, a motorbike owner told The Irrawaddy.

Last week, Mudon police seized five motorbike taxis in Kalawthut village after observing the motorbike drivers using the highway, the police reported.

But local residents told a different story. The drivers said they hadn’t used the highway at all. Their motorbikes were parked in Kalawthut village when police came to take the motorbikes away.

Then the police demanded 90,000 kyats payment for each motorbike before they would be returned, the owners said.

Officer Wai Zin Phyo, who works at the police station in Kamawat village, said the motorbike drivers were at fault.

“They are not allowed to drive motorbike taxis on the highway,” he said. “Our region has a policy to take action against offenders. These drivers violated the law, and that is why we went to arrest them.”

Some motorbike owners were reluctant to speak publicly about what happened. One owner, Aung Htein, said he had to pay a bribe to get his motorbike back.

“They [the police] came with three people. When they arrived at the spot where we park our motorbikes, they tried to take all the keys from the motorbikes. Some people tried to run away as well. But I didn’t run; I watched them take it,” Aung Htein said.

“They forced us to drive our motorbikes to their police station, but I refused to do it. Still, other people had to drive their motorbikes to their police station,” he said.

Driving a motorbike taxi on the highway is illegal, and police have the authority to take action against drivers who break the law, according to Nai Kyi Win, the Mon State minister of natural resources. But driving inside the villages is allowed, as it helps local businesses.

Nai Kyi Win said he has spoken with the five taxi drivers whose motorbikes were taken by police. The drivers complained to him about police abuses, he said.

“The police cannot take money from drivers. That is corruption,” said Nai Kyi Win.

Aung Htein said that many motorbike taxi drivers have become fearful and don’t dare to leave their motorbikes in public anymore, and that there is a lack of taxis operating in Kalawthut village.

Minister Nai Kyi Win said that taxi drivers should keep doing their jobs, and they should inform him if the police demand bribes.