Private company hands over Sittwe-Buthidaung ships to government after to monks’ demand

Buthidaung: The private Nagarmin Company has handed over the public shipping line between Sittwe and Buthidaung in Arakan State after the Buddhist monks from Buthidaung wrote to the owner of the company demanding to reduce the fare or hand the ships back to the government.

“Inland Water Transportation has started to run the Buthidaung-Sittwe ship line again from 2 April and the ship fare has also been reduced”, said a local resident

Ven. U Thawma, who led the other monks from Buthidaung to demand the handover of the public ship line back to government, said he was pleased the ship line was given back to the government and that the ship fare has been reduced.

“Now the public ship line is back in the government’s hands and the ship fare has also been reduced. Now the ship fare is 1,800 kyat and the people can save 1,200 kyat compared to 3,000 kyat that was charged when Nagarmin Company was running the ship line. We are glad because the ship line is back with the government, but we have to ask travelers if the present ship fare is an appropriate price for them”, said Ven. U Thawma.

27 Buddhist monks from downtown Buthidaung led by Ven. U Thawma wrote a letter to the owner of the Nagarmin Company, U Kyaw Nyaunt, in early March, demanding he reduce the ship fare to the former government rate or hand the ship line back to the government, as the people in their town and other adjacent areas were suffering from the enormous ship fare hike since the company took lease of the ship line from the government.

A youth from Buthidaung however said there is not much difference in the ship fares after the government has started to re-operate the ship line.

“There is still not much difference in the ship fare, though the government is running the ship line now again after taking it back from the private company. We still have to pay 1 ,800 Kyat for a ticket, 700 Kyat for a chair on the ship so we have to spend at least 2,500 Kyat for a trip to Sittwe”, said the youth.

The former ship fare from Buthidaung to Sittwe on the public ship line was 500 Kyat, but it increased by six times to 3,000 Kyat when the private company took lease on the ship line from the government in mid 2011.

There are private express vessels such as Shwepyitan, Malikha and NCR sailing between Buthidaung and Sittwe. The fares of those express vessels are 7000, 7500 and 6000 Kyat respectively, and most of the people in the area are unable to afford those expensive fares and they have to depend on the public ship line for their travel and transportation.