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Rangoon Car Dealers Protest Eviction from Hanthawady Market

Aye Kyawt Khaing The Irrawaddy

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RANGOON — Used-car dealers opposed to local government efforts to shut down Burma’s largest car-trading market held protests on Friday after municipal authorities sealed off the compound.

On Feb. 16, the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) ordered all businesses at the Hanthawady car-trading market to relocate by the end of February. The market sits on an 8.6-acre plot of land owned by the YCDC, which is planning to set up a housing project there.

According to Kyaw Min, the head of the YCDC’s revenue department, the municipal body has made a joint venture with Crown Advanced Construction to build a residential complex on the property.

The order to relocate the market prompted those who do business there to set up a strike committee to oppose the order, and have so far staged five protests.

“We don’t want to move, because we have all settled here. We haven’t received any compensation, plus we were ordered to leave on very short notice,” said Min Ko Myint, the president of the committee. He added that the new property provided for them by the YCDC is only temporary, and does not suit their business needs.

The Hanthawady car market was created in 1997 on a plot of land that was formerly a cemetery. According to Min Ko Myint, all the businesses operating at the market regularly pay taxes to the municipal government. The market relocation would affect nearly 35,000 people, including car dealers, brokers, laborers and their families.