Rising Prices Forcing Myanmar Truckers to Stop Operations

By The Irrawaddy 12 October 2021

Rising fuel prices and other costs in Myanmar are forcing freight firms to suspend operations, according to industry insiders.

Already half of Myanmar’s freight providers have halted operations as trade declined after China closed its border gates due to coronavirus, the prices of fuel and spare parts increased as the kyat depreciates and military checkpoints demand bribes.

Those still operating will mostly close down this month, said freight providers.

Before the Feb. 1 coup, fuel prices were as low as 655 kyats (33 US cents) per liter but prices have reached 1,900 kyats at some filling stations.

“Fuel prices have increased and there are tight checks on the roads where we have to pay bribes,” U Kyin Thein, chairman of the Myanmar Highway Freight Transportation Service Association, told The Irrawaddy.

“There are long queues at filling stations. We can only get 20 gallons. That is not enough. There are also fewer filling stations. We are struggling and if we suffer losses, we will have to reconsider,” he added.

Meanwhile, the prices of engine oil, tyres and other parts have increased due to the weakening kyat. If there are no breakdown costs, truck owners make a profit of around 100,000 kyats for a 1,300-kilometer route.

The military regime said fuel is rationed at 94 filling stations in Yangon but there are only a few stations along the Yangon-Mandalay road which the majority of trucks use.

Currently, freight firms are only carrying basic food and consumer goods.

“We are struggling and we might have to halt operations if the situation gets worse,” said a Yangon-based freight firm manager whose firm links Yangon and southern Shan State.

A freight provider between Yangon and Myawaddy said: “Fuel prices have increased but we haven’t increased freight charges. But if fuel prices remain high, we will be forced to increase charges.”

Freight firms, drivers and farmers were already struggling with the closure of the Chinese border amid COVID-19 fears and productivity since the February coup.

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