New car im­ports on hold un­til pub­lic trans­port sys­tem im­proved: YRTA

The Myanmar Times - - Business - Ayenyein­win@mm­times.com AYE NYEIN WIN

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.

Photo: Kaung Htet

Work­ers un­load a truck by night at Yangon port.

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