New Rangoon Parking Permit Policy Said to Be Fueling Corruption

By Nyein Nyein 10 April 2015

RANGOON — A new policy that requires car buyers from central Rangoon to arrange a parking permit in advance of their purchase is fueling corruption, as permits are so coveted that buyers are willing to make under-the-table payments to officials, car dealers and buyers have said.

Introduced in January, the Rangoon Division policy was devised as a way of reducing traffic congestion by requiring all would-be car owners from central Rangoon to first get a parking permit from township parking inspection teams, which comprise township administrators, officials of the Yangon City Development Committee and the division’s road transport department.

Traffic jams have drastically worsened in the center of Burma biggest city, which is home to more than 5 million people, after car imports soared following the lifting of junta-era restrictions on imports in late 2011. A lack of parking spaces has consequently also become a serious issue.

Ko Oak Soe, a Rangoon-based car dealer, said most dealers were forced to sort out the advance parking permits for car buyers from central Rangoon in order to facilitate sales. He said the high demand for permits was leading to a thriving black market trade and a willingness to make unofficial payments to go-betweens, who were demanding between US$300 to $600 for their services in expediting the issuance of permits.

Under normal procedures obtaining a permit could take several weeks and would be free of charge, but chances of obtaining a permit in central Rangoon these days are small.

“The payment to the township parking inspection officials are all done under the table,” said Ko Oak Soe, adding that the bureaucratic application procedures are lengthy and require approval from five or six different department officials.

Several car dealers in Rangoon contacted by The Irrawaddy confirmed that they resorted to unofficial payments in order to secure parking permits for buyers.

Ko Win, a resident of central Rangoon’s Mayangone Township, said he recently bought a car, but was forced to pay an additional $350 in costs involved in obtaining a parking permit from Mayangone Township Parking Inspection Team.

“We have to pay tea money to the township inspection officials,” he said, using a local reference to bribes, adding, “The new policy causes us more troubles and consumes a lot of time.”

After paying bribes to township-level officers, prospective buyers say that their application must be forwarded to the provincial office for final approval—along with a signed statement affirming that no money changed hands during the application.

“When we went to take the permit at the provincial office, we had to sign the paper that states that we did not have to pay any cost for this permit,” said Ko Kyaw, another recent buyer.

Repeated attempts by The Irrawaddy on Friday to contact the Rangoon Division Transport Ministry about the allegations were unsuccessful.