De­mands for end of BM buses grow after re­cent hit-and-run

The Myanmar Times - - News - Yeemon­tun@mm­ YE MON

FOL­LOW­ING the hit-and-run death of a 68-year-old woman in South Dagon town­ship on October 28, some are call­ing for the end of the lo­cally built BM buses. Au­thor­i­ties have yet to lo­cate the driver or con­duc­tor.

As peo­ple from other re­gions and states have re­lo­cated to the more eco­nom­i­cally pros­per­ous Yan­gon Re­gion, the pop­u­la­tion’s up­ward climb has put more pres­sure on the com­mer­cial cap­i­tal’s trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture, par­tic­u­larly its an­ti­quated buses.

Many pas­sen­gers claim they are be­ing forced to pay in­creased fees while en­dur­ing abuse from the buses’ con­duc­tors. Some claim that they have been beaten by con­duc­tors or drivers after com­plain­ing.

This makes pas­sen­gers scared to com­plain, said Ma Aye Myat Myat Aung from San­chaung town­ship.

“I saw the money-col­lect­ing con­duc­tor threaten a pas­sen­ger with an iron rod,” she said. “The pas­sen­ger had com­plained that the driver took too long at the bus stop.”

The most con­sis­tent com­plaints are against the smaller, nar­rower, low­ceilinged BM buses, which have been run­ning the streets of Yan­gon, from down­town bus stops to North Dagon and North Okkalapa town­ships, for more than 40 years.

Cur­rently, there are 146 BM buses run­ning to South Dagon town­ship and nearly 400 BM buses re­gion­wide, ac­cord­ing to the Yan­gon Re­gion gov­ern­ment.

Yan­gon Re­gion law­maker U Nyi Nyi (NLD; South Dagon 1) said the BM buses should be re­tired. They have weak struc­tures that can en­dan­ger the lives of their pas­sen­gers if the gov­ern­ment al­lows them to con­tinue run­ning, he said.

“The gov­ern­ment should pro­tect the pas­sen­gers in ac­cor­dance with the laws,” he said.

When he brought up the is­sue at a par­lia­men­tary ses­sion on October 28, re­gional Elec­tric­ity, In­dus­try and Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Daw Nila Kyaw re­sponded with a prom­ise to take ac­tion against BM bus drivers and con­duc­tors who en­dan­ger their pas­sen­gers.

“The drivers and money con­duc­tors run away after the ac­ci­dents,” she said. “So, we plan to take ac­tion against the bus own­ers when the ac­ci­dents oc­cur.”

She also pledged to take stern ac­tion in the re­cent case of the 68-yearold woman killed by the bus.

Last year, the re­gional gov­ern­ment set up a pub­lic-pri­vate sec­tor joint ven­ture, sup­port­ing a new sys­tem, BRT Lite, as an al­ter­na­tive to the BM buses.

BRT Lite be­gan oper­at­ing ear­lier this year us­ing new ve­hi­cles that drive in a ded­i­cated lane and have pri­or­ity over or­di­nary buses.

The scheme was based on a 2013 rapid tran­sit sys­tem plan sug­gested by the Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency.

Pas­sen­gers on the BRT Lite are not sub­ject to reck­less driv­ing or ra­pac­ity and rude­ness of mon­ey­col­lect­ing con­duc­tors. But BRT Lite op­er­ates on only three routes and thus far has brought limited or­der to the mad­ness of Yan­gon’s bus sys­tem, in which pri­vately owned bus lines com­pete on the same routes for the same pas­sen­gers.

“We are try­ing to be suc­cess­ful through a pub­lic-pri­vate trans­porta­tion sys­tem,” said Daw Ni­lar Kyaw, who is also the chair of the Yan­gon Re­gion Trans­port Author­ity. “I would like to re­quest the peo­ple to tol­er­ate the cur­rent trans­porta­tion sys­tem.”

While the pub­lic waits for a more ef­fec­tive sys­tem, MP U Yan Aung (NLD; Min­galar Taung Nyunt 2) said the gov­ern­ment should pro­tect the peo­ple by tak­ing ac­tion against drivers and con­duc­tors who are break­ing the law.

“We can­not pre­dict how long it will be be­fore we have a new trans­porta­tion sys­tem,” he said. “We are wor­ried that sev­eral lives will be lost be­fore the new sys­tem is in place. We want to know how the gov­ern­ment plans to re­solve that.”

Photo: Staff

A pas­sen­ger boards a BM bus in down­town Yan­gon.

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