Trucking Associations Criticize New Regulations

By Tin Htet Paing 4 November 2016

RANGOON — A notice from Rangoon Division’s Supervisory Committee for Traffic Rules Enforcement prohibiting cargo and container vehicles from using the city’s roads during the daytime faced criticism from industry stakeholders.

The Oct. 25 notice was addressed to two associations—the Myanmar Cargo Vehicles Association and the Myanmar Container Trucks Association. It stated that cargo and container trucks would only be permitted on the roads from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

The roads designated for transport trucks in Rangoon are those leading to the city’s industrial zones and include Strand, Bayintnaung, Mingalardon, Aung Zayar, Pearl, Khayaypin, Pyinma, No.3 Main, Botahtaung Pagoda and Shukhinthar roads.

The regulations were set to be in effect from Nov. 1, but have been delayed until Nov. 15 to sort out some remaining issues, according to secretary Dr. Maung Aung of the Yangon Region Transport Authority—the body behind the move.

According to Dr. Maung Aung, the move was prompted mainly by traffic congestion on Strand and Bayintnaung roads, which many container trucks and cargo vehicles use and which are also connected to the city’s downtown area.

“Traffic is brought to a standstill,” he said. “We decided on these regulations because people are complaining a lot.”

Dr. Maung Aung added that the supervisory body had consulted with stakeholders numerous times before the decision was made.

However, the Myanmar Container Trucks Association told The Irrawaddy that several stakeholders had sent a letter to Rangoon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein on the same day the notice was released, highlighting the possible consequences of the restrictions.

The letter stated that such restrictions could impact not only the container trucking industry but also the entire supply chain connected to exporters and importers.

“Even though the trucks are being run 24 hours a day currently, it’s hard for us to send containers in time to vessels [at the port],” the Myanmar Container Trucks Association wrote in the letter.

“We suggest restricting container trucks during peak hours and allowing travel between noon and 3:00pm, before the nighttime shift,” the letter stated.

U Soe Naing, vice-chairman (2) of the association, told The Irrawaddy that if the trucks were allowed on the roads only nine hours a day, it would decrease work productivity in the supply chain industry and increase costs for manufacturers and factory owners, which would also result in an increase of their product prices.

According to the Myanmar Container Trucks Association, there are about 2,000 container trucks registered with the association and about 1,000 unregistered ones across the country.

The Myanmar Fishery Products Processors and Exporters Association also said in the letter that there are “insufficient” customs workers in ports at night for the container trucks to complete customs procedures. The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association also cited the issue of labor availability in garment factories at night.

Stakeholders urged the Rangoon chief minister to consider their suggestions when deciding whether to restrict transport trucks from traveling during the day in an effort to ease traffic congestion.

Such an effort is suitable but needs time before its implementation, the letter said, suggesting an initial trial period to decide the best way to tackle the problem of transport trucks and traffic congestion.

Dr. Maung Aung of the Yangon Region Transport Authority said the practice of allowing container trucks only at night is also used in other countries.

“There will be difficulties in the initial stage,” he said.

“We will help solve the difficulties that concern government bodies,” he added, referring to the unavailability of an effective customs workforce at the ports at night.

One of the biggest challenges facing the Rangoon regional government is the alleviation of traffic congestion in a city with millions of frustrated commuters.