Sittwe: Over 300 students from Sittwe University marched to the office of the Regional Chief Minister in the capital Sittwe in western Burma’s Arakan State to protest a hike in their school ferry fees on Friday.
“The taxi fare for travel to our university from downtown Sittwe increased from 100 Kyat to 200 Kyat and we have staged a protest in order to demand they reduce the fare to the regular price,” said of the student who was involved in the protest.
A local resident from Palotetaung Ward in downtown Sittwe also confirmed that he saw the students march peacefully through the street in front of his house to the office of the Chief Minister.
When asked if it was not fair for the taxis to raise their fare as gasoline prices go up, the student responded, “Because of the fare hike, a student now has to pay 400 Kyat per day just for their school transportation, and most of the students will not be able to continue their studies in university because they are very poor. That is why we have to protest to demand to keep our school transportation fares as they were.”
The student said they marched to the General Administration Office of the State to present their difficulties as they believe the government is responsible for solving the problem and managing school taxi fees for students, adding that they would continue their protest if the government does not solve their difficulties.
According to the sources, the authorities have not disturbed the students, although they did take close-up photographs and video recordings of the students as they were marching to the regional administration office.
Security was increased around campus and the university gates were shut due to the students’ protest.
Students ended the protest after U Tin Maung Tun, the principal of the university, and other teachers negotiated with the students and promised to respond to their demands.
Similar protests have also occurred before when taxis running between downtown and the university have attempted to increase their fares for the students, after the university was moved to the outskirts of the city. Authorities have still neglected to provide reliable and affordable school transportation for the students.