Myanmar’s Transport Sector Close to Collapse as Prices Rise

By The Irrawaddy 7 June 2022

Myanmar’s transport industry is being crippled by the fuel crisis, according to service providers.

Fuel has been in short supply due to regime restrictions and prices have soared with a liter of petrol hitting 3,000 kyats.

A freight service provider said: “Freight is scarce these days and business is slow. Fuel prices have increased, which will affect consumers. We can’t rapidly increase our charges immediately but they will rise slowly and surely. Business has been slow since the coup and we can’t wait any longer. The business will halt very soon as fuel prices have soared.”

The industry has been plagued by post-coup turmoil as clashes occur across the country and the regime blocks supply routes.

Increased fuel prices and limited availability, including in Yangon and Mandalay, are other blows to the industry, he said.

“While we’re having various difficulties, the situation has worsened. This will affect consumers. We will stop operations if the business is no longer profitable,” he said.

In March some service providers in Sagaing and Magwe regions halted operations due to rising fuel prices and daily clashes.

Myanmar Trade Center Co, which runs coaches between Yangon and Bago with Daewoo intercity buses, announced last week that it has been operating at a loss and will suspend operations on Friday.

A taxi driver in Yangon said: “As the cost of living has increased, some who took taxis regularly have switched to buses. Fuel prices have increased and we can’t fill as much as we want. We have to drive to several filling stations to fill our tanks.

“Sometimes I can’t pay the rent to the car’s owner. My income has declined by more than 50 percent and I am struggling to support my family.”

He said he recently returned the car to its owner and is looking for another job, which is difficult.

Charities are also struggling.

A charity manager in Muse on the Chinese border in Shan State said: “We are considering whether to suspend operations. People will suffer if we do. The cost of transporting a patient from Muse to Mandalay, including fuel and meals for the ambulance driver and assistants, has almost doubled to 350,000 kyats. And patients can’t afford to make donations as they did in the past to cover fuel costs. We also can’t buy fuel easily.”

Petrol costs over 2,600 kyats per liter in Muse and stocks are low, he said.

Prices of food and other commodities are also increasing. Myanmar’s leading bottled water producer Alpine, which relies heavily on generators due to power outages, said it will increase the price of its 20-liter bottles by 50 kyats on Friday. The supplier increased the price by 100 kyats in March.

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