New car imports on hold until public transport system improved: YRTA
PEOPLE hoping to have the ban on new car imports to Yangon lifted will have to wait until improvements have been made in public transport, an official from the YRTA has confirmed.
New car imports for personal use were suspended in April when the government told township officials to stop issuing recommendation letters, which recognise the holder has a parking space and thus is entitled to import a new car. Aiming to reduce the capital’s severe traffic congestion problems, the system of recommendation letters was set up by the previous government. Cars for business use and machinery are exceptions to the ban.
It appears that the suspension will not be lifted any time soon, after U Maung Aung, secretary of the Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA), confirmed last week that new imports into the city will not be allowed until Yangon’s notorious public transport system is functioning efficiently and has won the trust of city dwellers.
“Given the current situation, we feel there is too much traffic congestion, even on weekends,” he said.“We will not consider car imports yet, until we can solve this congestion. And to solve the congestion, we should first promote public transportation.” he added, without giving a date as to when the ban might be lifted.
The YRTA secretary said the government was looking at ways to better control traffic flow in the city, such as improved traffic-light management and greater enforcement of traffic laws and car licensing. A new citywide public-private sector joint venture company to help reform Yangon’s chaotic bus system is under way, he said.
U Maung Aung added that the government was hoping to soon secure funding for a certificate of entitlement, or COE, system, similar to that which operates in Singapore, where by holders have the right to own and operate a vehicle for a fixed period of time - usually five to 10 years - before needing to renew their COE again. He said that authorities would need to strike a balance on this system, however, to ensure that it was fair and affordable for all drivers.
“But we will practice the COE system, then car importers will no longer face a system of buying recommendation letters that costs a lot of money,” he said, referring to the informal system that flourished when the former government introduced the system of recommendations.
The lift on the ban can’t come soon enough for many Yangon showrooms that took customer orders prior to the April 1 halt, but had not yet received the vehicles. Car importers say they have been left in limbo, until the new government had established a policy, clearing the way for new cars in the city.
“We want the government to decide the exact policy or system as soon as possible,” said U Myo Myint Thein, chief operating from Toyota Aye and Sons.
They have experienced complications, but said they have no other choice but to wait.
“We can’t do anything,” he said.
Workers unload a truck by night at Yangon port.