Burmese Navy seizes and frees a timber boat after taking 100 lakh Kyat

Khine Thein

Teknaf: A timber trader says the Burmese Navy has seized a timber-laden boat that was sailing to neighboring Bangladesh in the sea nearby Kyaukpru in Arakan State and freed the boat after taking Kyat 10 millions as a bribe on 17th of July.

The boat is said to have brought 90 tons of timber and was seized by the Naval Ship (612) deployed near the Moatsoema Coral-reef that is situated 10 miles away from Kyaukpru.

The trader currently at the Teknaf Landport in Bangladesh told Narinjara that the naval ship freed the boat after receiving Kyat 10 millions from the owner.

“The naval ship arrested the boat around 3 pm on 17th of July and asked for Kyat 100 lakhs. The crew of the boat had to contact to the owner in the town for the money and the boat was released after giving the money. But a CDMA phone from the boat was taken by the ship’s personnel”, he said.

He said that Kyat 10 millions is a very large sum and a timber trader would not be able to make that as profit by selling their timber in Bangladesh.

“Unless Kyat 100 lakhs is paid, the boat and the timber would be seized by the navy and the crewmen would be sent to jail. That’s why we have to pay whatever they ask. We would never be able to make such amount as profit from selling our timber in Bangladesh. The navy should consider not hurting its own citizens. But it is now quite unfair and ruthless to forcibly take such an amount of money and ruin a trader’s life”, said the trader.

The boat is said to have been arrested because it sailed without reporting to the Burmese navy.

“If we export our timber to Bangladesh, we must inform the Burmese Navy. If a boat is coming from Taungup, it has to pay at least Kyat 6 lakhs to the naval toll-gates along the sea-route—2 lakhs kyat each to the gates being deployed near Thandwe, Kyaukpru, Pharonekar Island and Raychanpyin in Sittwe. We do not get much profit from our trade because we have to pay a lot to the navy. We have to continue our cross-border trade because we have no other choice of trade”, said the trader.

According to the timber traders on the border, Burmese timber such as teak and dipterocarpus alatus are currently priced at 277500 Taka, and 75000 Taka per ton respectively in the border market in Teknaf in Bangladesh.

The currency exchange rate on the border at present is 9.6 Burmese Kyat per 1 Bangladeshi Taka.