Myanmar’s military regime has imposed new restrictions on motorbikes in certain townships in Yangon, Tanintharyi, Sagaing and Mandalay regions.
The new restrictions are widely seen as an attempt to limit the movements of civilian resistance fighters, who sometimes use motorbikes to carry out shooting and bombing attacks on junta forces.
Under the new rules, two men are now banned from riding on a motorbike together. A male riding on the backseat behind a female driver is also no longer allowed. In a few townships, all motorbikes, as well as three-wheeled bikes, have been banned from the road.
Townships targeted by the motorbike ban include Thanlyin and Hlaing Tharyar in Yangon Region, Dawei and Myeik in Tanintharyi Region, Monywa in Sagaing Region and Kyaukpadaung, Taung Tha, Meiktila, Mahlaing, Wundwin and Thazi townships in Mandalay Region.
On 25 October, a local People’s Defense Force (PDF) in Meiktila used a motorbike to attack a junta patrol with a bomb. The PDF claimed two policemen died and at least five others were injured in the attack.
“The restrictions were introduced on Tuesday. Junta forces have threatened to open fire if they see two males riding on a motorbike together,” said a Meiktila resident who asked not to be named.
Locals in the townships under the new restrictions rely on motorbikes to get around and to transport goods as there are not enough bus routes within their townships and taxis are prohibitively expensive. Now, residents are vulnerable to being shot, arrested or fined by junta forces.
Motorbike taxi drivers face especial difficulties because of the restrictions. “How can we continue to work under these restrictions and earn a living?” said one motorbike taxi driver from Wundwin Township.
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