Burma

Operator of Water Bus Service in Myanmar’s Biggest City Faces Lawsuit for Unpaid Fuel Bills

By Aung Thiha 17 February 2020

YANGON—Petro & Trans Group of Companies said it would file a lawsuit against Tint Tint Myanmar Co., the operator of the Yangon Water Bus service, for failing to pay outstanding bills for more than 70 million kyats (about US$48,400) worth of fuel purchases.

When it was launched in 2017, Yangon Water Bus was billed as a more modern, comfortable alternative to the city’s regular ferry service.

On Saturday, Petro & Trans announced in state-run newspapers that it would take legal action in response to the unpaid bills.

“We sent the notice, but the [Tint Tint Myanmar] company office is no longer at its original address. When we called them, their phones were switched off. I don’t want to accuse them, but it seems as if they are avoiding us,” U Than Tun, a lawyer for Petro & Trans, told The Irrawaddy.

Between Sept. 4 and Dec. 9, 2018, Tint Tint Myanmar Co. reportedly bought over 77 million kyats worth of fuel for its water buses on credit. Company chairwoman Daw Tint Tint Lwin reportedly signed an agreement that her company would pay the amount in full by Aug. 15, 2019, but she did not, U Than Tun said.

Petro & Trans set a deadline of Feb. 28 for the payment, and warned that legal action would be taken against if the bill went unpaid.

The Irrawaddy attempted to contact Tint Tint Myanmar Co., but all of the phones for which numbers were available had been switched off. However, Yangon Water Bus said on its Facebook page on Saturday evening that its board of directors was unaware of the issue and would investigate whether any former staff or responsible persons had misused their power. It said the company had never granted anyone the right to purchase more than 70 million kyats worth of fuel on credit and that action would be taken against those responsible. The company also said it would take legal action in response to Petro & Trans’ announcement, which it said had damaged its image.

The Yangon Water Bus service was launched on Oct. 7, 2017 with the stated objective of easing traffic congestion in the commercial capital. It began operating between Botatung and Insein townships, and later added weekly river cruises and boat tours to its services.

In September last year, the operator announced a temporary suspension of its operations, reportedly in order to improve its services and introduce a card payment system. It has not made any further announcement since then.

U Hla Aung, joint secretary of the Yangon Region Transport Authority, which supervises all transportation services in the region, told The Irrawaddy, “We don’t know yet about the case of Tint Tint Myanmar.”

Water transport is part of the Yangon regional government’s plan to utilize the waterways surrounding the city as a major mode of transportation, complementing existing land transport. Tint Tint Myanmar Co. won a tender to provide the Yangon Water Bus service, which was intended to link with the Yangon Bus Service launched in 2017.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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