Narinjara news

Restriction on the transport of rice relieved in western Burma

Sittwe, 23 May 03: 
The ruling State Peace and Development junta of Burma have lifted the restriction officially imposed on the open transport of rice from one township to another in the western Burmese state of Rakhine, according to our correspondent in the capital, Sittwe (previously Akyab).

The carrying of rice especially to the two townships bordering with Bangladesh was previously suspended, owing to large scale smuggling of rice to the highly populated country from the river ports of the western part of Burma.  The motor vessels and ships plying between Sittwe and the border town of Buthidaung have recently started loading and unloading rice as in the good old days before the military rulers came to the political scene in Burma, said a trader. 

The policemen escorting the vessels have also been reported to collect bribes at the rate of kyat five hundred for each 50-kilo bag of rice being carried to Buthidaung. 

The price of rice has also come down from kyat 15,000 to kyat 10,400 over the recent weeks.  A bag of rice in Sittwe is retailing at kyat 7,500, which has encouraged even a number of minors to work as ‘carriers’ of rice to the border towns where the price is still not normal as it should have been.

The opening up of the trade and transportation of rice has opened up new hopes for the farmers of the state to get the just price for their produce, a village elder told our correspondent.  But many more farmers are still sceptical about the opening up of the trade and transport of rice, which they think can be cancelled at any time, even a few days before the harvest season sets in next year.   #