PATHEIN — Police have arrested 14 people after a brawl between vendors and local officials at Irrawaddy Division’s Chaung Tha beach on Sunday.
A team of locals and municipal workers were clearing vendors set up on the beach on Sunday evening when some of the sellers became unruly, assaulting village administrator Tay Zar Aung and ward administrator Win Bo, according to the local police force.
“This was the third day we were doing this duty,” said Tay Zar Aung. “We were explaining to the unlawful vendors that we had to seize their stalls, and they came out holding sticks and threatened to beat us. As we were asking them to not attack us, a group of female vendors began taking seized goods from our vehicle. We grabbed things back from them and then they attacked us.”
Tay Zar Aung filed a complaint with the local police station, which has charged vendor Myint Kyi and 13 others for attacking the public servants.
“Vendors hit the beach regulation enforcement team as they were clearing the beach, doing their duty,” police officer Ohn Kyaw told The Irrawaddy. “Fourteen defendants including Daw Myint Kyi have been remanded in custody. They are being detained because they can’t be bailed under the charge they are facing.”
Eight of those detained are female vendors. Of the other six, three were visitors to the beach.
The Pathein General Administration Department issued an order last year which banned vendors, the use of motorized vehicles and littering along the beach. The beach regulations enforcement team takes periodic action against lawbreakers, which includes the seizure of stalls and goods from vendors.
Local vendor Aye Sandar said that beach sellers had suffered from frequent seizures by the enforcement team.
“They have not allocated us us a proper place on the beach to sell, in spite of our request. Then they have seized our things, which makes a lot of trouble for those of us who have to make a living from selling things here,” she said.
Administrator Tay Zar Aung told The Irrawaddy that hawkers were allowed to sell things on the beach, and it was only vendors running stalls who were banned from the area.
“Hawkers are allowed on the beach,” he said. “But when vendors put up stalls on the beach in a disorderly way, the beach is full of them, and beachgoers don’t even have a place to relax. They sleep, cook, litter and relieve themselves on the beach. In the long run, this would damage the beach. That’s why we enforce the regulations, to ensure the beauty and sustainability of the beach.”
Chaung Tha beach has seen an increasing number of visitors in recent years and mostly caters to local travelers. There are at least 70 vendors and 250 hawkers working on the beach.