MYANMAR NAVY ENGAGED IN EXTORTION IN THE MAYU RIVER
Buthidaung, 7th January 02: Two Myanmar Naval guard posts have been reported to be engaged in extorting money and materials from all the civilian vessels passing them, according to a businessman available at Buthidaung, a small township in the western part of Myanmar.
One of the two naval guard posts is situated at Ngalapra village under Rathedaung township, and the other at The-kan Khwa-chung, Buthidaung both on the Mayu river. The two guard posts are situated in strategically important spots and all the vessels coming from across Rakhine state including Minbra, Punnagyun, Sittwe, and Mrauk-u to Buthidaung must touch the two places. Vessels carrying salt, agricultural produce, earthenware, textile, and even fishing boats and trawlers are not spared from extortion. All the vessels including passenger carrying motorboats are detained for long hours unless they agree to pay extortion money in the plea of security check, or 'official order'. Sometimes if the motor vessels cannot make their trip on time, they have to strand for long hours waiting for the tide to come back. The businessman added that, there would not be any problem if it were a vessel carrying illegal smuggling items, but for those who carry on legal business, the delay may cause perishable goods and foods to rot and incur heavy losses. Again if the illegal tolls are added to the cost of goods transport the margin of profit would be very small or even incur heavy losses.
In Rakhine State, a businessman has to pay illegal tolls even for legal goods permissible under the law to Village administration, Township administration, Military Intelligence, Police, as well as to all the check posts along the way for carrying his goods since he has to produce dozens of 'permissions' to authorities everywhere. For movement from one place to another permissions from all the above authorities have to be produced wherever he goes.
The businessman also lamented that, though there is a need for all the papers for carrying legal trade and business in the state, the smuggling boats are given free passage as they do not need to touch the checkpoints or ever get interfered. #