Sa­gaing ferry ter­mi­nal closed

In the wake of the sink­ing of the Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2, a dis­as­ter which claimed the lives of at least 73 peo­ple, the gov­ern­ment has de­cided to tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend all ser­vices out of the Aye Nyein Chan Thar ferry ter­mi­nal.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - MAUNG ZAW maungzaw@mm­

THE Sa­gaing Re­gion gov­ern­ment has tem­po­rar­ily closed the ferry ter­mi­nal that the ill-fated Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2 ferry de­parted from in mid-Oc­to­ber.

In the af­ter­math of the Oc­to­ber 15 dis­as­ter, which claimed the lives of at least 73 peo­ple, the gov­ern­ment has de­cided to tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend all ser­vices run­ning from the Aye Nyein Chan Thar ferry ter­mi­nal in Kani town­ship.

The ferry was dan­ger­ously over­crowded when it set off from the ter­mi­nal and al­legedly did not have the proper li­cences to run the di­rect Ho­ma­lin-Monywa ser­vice it was op­er­at­ing.

“The Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2 ferry de­parted from the Aye Nyein Chan Thar ferry ter­mi­nal so they have some re­spon­si­bil­ity for the dis­as­ter. As such, we have tem­po­rar­ily banned all ves­sels from this ter­mi­nal from run­ning,” said Sa­gaing Re­gion’s Minister for Elec­tric­ity, In­dus­try and Trans­port U Than Nyunt Win.

“The sus­pen­sion is not our fi­nal de­ci­sion. We will de­cide on the ter­mi­nal’s fu­ture once investigations into the dis­as­ter have been com­pleted,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to U Tin Tun Aung, head of Sa­gaing Re­gion’s Depart­ment of Marine Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the ban was im­posed on Novem­ber 1 and will con­tinue in­def­i­nitely while an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the tragedy pro­ceeds.

“We are now con­duct­ing investigations and can­not say when they will be fin­ished. We need to ar­rest an­other of the Aung Soe Moe Kyaw’s own­ers. Its driver re­cently turned him­self in to po­lice but we still do not have enough in­for­ma­tion,” he said.

The ferry’s cap­tain turned him­self over to po­lice cus­tody on Oc­to­ber 28. Po­lice also ar­rested four of the ship’s crew last month.

U Tin Tun Aung said yes­ter­day that there was prece­dent for clos­ing ferry ter­mi­nals fol­low­ing a dis­as­ter.

“Un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, a ferry cap­sized and the gov­ern­ment closed the ter­mi­nal from where that ferry de­parted for a year. This event is sim­i­lar to that,” he said.

Fol­low­ing the cap­siz­ing of the Yazar Tun ferry in Novem­ber 2015, in which 14 pas­sen­gers lost their lives, the Zabu Tun ferry ter­mi­nal was closed for a year.

The head of that ferry ter­mi­nal’s ves­sel as­so­ci­a­tion, U Thant Zin Oo, spoke to The Myan­mar Times on the clo­sure of the Aye Nyein Chan Thar ferry ter­mi­nal and said that some blame should be placed on the In­land Wa­ter Trans­port depart­ment as well.

“It is a good mea­sure to ban ves­sels from run­ning so long as they aren’t given per­mis­sion to op­er­ate in other ways,” U Thant Zin Oo said. “Also, it should be con­sid­ered that two ma­jor ferry dis­as­ters [the Yazar Tun and Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2 sink­ings] have oc­curred on the watch of the cur­rent head of the In­land Wa­ter Trans­port depart­ment. It is ob­vi­ous that this per­son has some re­spon­si­bil­ity for these dis­as­ters and ac­tion should be taken ac­cord­ingly.”

U Than Nyunt Win, the re­gional minister, said pre­vi­ously that no one shar­ing cul­pa­bil­ity for the Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2 dis­as­ter would be spared dis­ci­plinary ac­tion or pros­e­cu­tion.

Twenty-seven fer­ries will be af­fected by the ban on ser­vices from the Aye Nyein Chan Thar ferry ter­mi­nal. Local res­i­dents have ex­pressed con­cerns over dif­fi­cul­ties that the clo­sure may cause.

“If a ferry cap­sizes, ac­tion should only be taken against the op­er­a­tors of that ferry. Now, be­cause of one cap­sized ferry, all the others have been banned from run­ning. Fam­i­lies who de­pend on these busi­nesses may face dif­fi­cul­ties,” said Ho­ma­lin town­ship res­i­dent U Soe Lin.

“I think it is bet­ter to only act against those di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the dis­as­ter. Be­cause of the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion, there will be even fewer ferry routes avail­able for peo­ple in Ho­ma­lin,” he added.

– Trans­la­tion by Win Thaw Tar

Photo: EPA

Res­cue work­ers try to pull the Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2 ferry from the Chind­win River near the city of Monywa, Sa­gaing Divi­sion, on Oc­to­ber 18. At least 73 peo­ple drowned in the over­crowded ferry’s sink­ing on Oc­to­ber 15.

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