Severe Floods Take Heavy Toll in Arakan State

By Moe Myint 30 June 2015

RANGOON — Severe flooding in Burma’s Arakan State over the past few days has hit locals hard, with businesses and transportation disrupted and reports that several people have died.

Myo Lwin, the founder of a community-based organization in Arakan State’s Ann Township, said five people had died due to the flooding in Ann and four others from surrounding villages.

Around 130 homes had been destroyed, he said, with hundreds waiting to receive support from the government and relief organizations.

Transportation in and out of the region has been disrupted for days. Over ten bus lines operate from Rangoon’s Aung Mingalar terminal to areas in Arakan State, with the majority forced to suspend services.

Shwe Tin Aung of bus company Aung Thit Sar said the Nghet Pyaw Chaung bridge near Taungup, on the main road linking Kyaukphyu to Rangoon, had been impassable since June 25. The company’s Kyaukphu-Rangoon express service was cancelled until Tuesday, June 30, affecting scores of Rakhine passengers.

“I hope the road conditions will be fine again within a week,” Shwe Tin Aung said.

Htet Hlaing Htun, a villager from Tat Taung in Ann Township, told The Irrawaddy he was forced to buy a bus ticket from Rangoon to Taungup and from there take a boat to his village. “We don’t have many other options,” he said.

Oo Nanda Wantha, a monk originally from Arakan State, came to the Aung Mingalar bus terminal to send a small parcel to his relatives, but the company would not accept it.

“They said transportation is only for passengers. I will make a request with the bus driver because the package is small and it’s very important for my nephews,” he said.

A bus driver with Ye Aung Lan Express, Hein Zaw Oo, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday he came across a damaged bridge between Pa Zun Pyae and Kyae Pin villages in Thandwe Township on the main highway.

“We spent nearly half an hour there [before] I requested that all passengers disembark while I find a way to pass,” he said.

The owner of Ye Aung Lan Express, Kyaw Zin Latt, said the company owed money to customers after cancelling the service for two days. The company has now arranged for buses to meet on opposing sides of the damaged Nghet Pyaw Chaung bridge to exchange passengers, enabling the service to continue.

Kyaw Zin Latt added that the company’s warehouse was almost full with goods they had been unable to transport over the past few days.

A bus driver with the company KISAPA who declined to give his name said that around the town of Ann, where every vehicle would travel on the road from Sittwe to Yangon, three sections of the road were almost impassable.

The Irrawaddy repeatedly tried to contact Hla Han, Arakan State’s minister for transport, on Tuesday without success.