Narinjara News

 

So-called Custom Gates mushrooming across Arakan

 

Akyab, June 4: Arakan is experiencing a boom in the numbers of illegal tollgates run by the local authorities.

 

These gates are run by police, armed forces, immigration officers, and Na Sa Kha (Border Security). However, all of these gates are under the management of Township Peace and Development Council, the local level junta.

 

Generally, these gates are stationed at the cross roads of waterways and collect money from the trespassers.  In the May-Yu river, the waterway between Akyab and Buthe Daung, Rachan Byan, Nga Lat Pyar, Prean Daw, Naung Khaung have government custom gates to collect money from all small or big boats that traverse the river.  Arakan State authority does not allow the transport of rice, chili, bamboo, timber, cattle, fuel, etc. This ban on transport of these commodities makes for fertile ground for bribery, which means these gates are generating substantial revenue for the State.

 

In upper Lae Myo river, at Mraung Bawe, Forestry and Police have set up a tollgate, the former collects money on timer, bamboo and thatches, while the latter on commodities such as cattle and rice.

 

According to a farmer of that region, thatches are legally “free” items that can be transported and traded without any restriction, because it is the basic commodities used in many households. However, the Forestry authority still collects money on it.

 

In Pout Taw Township, at Taung Phu, the Burmese navy opened a tollgate and collected money from the smuggling boats as well as the ones going to Kyauk Pru and Taung Gout.  To get a position at this station, a sailor has to pay at least 300, 000 kyats to the commander of the Dannya Waddy Naval Base.

 

Four miles from Maung Daw, there is also the Nasaka gate that collects 500 kyats for every rice bag that comes from Buthee DaungNasaka (25) gate at Ann is budded as “blackmailing station.”  At police stations there are signs saying, “May we help you?” However one must offer them a bribe in order to get anything done there.

 

The higher authorities turn a blind eye to these corruption and bribery problems, which are taking a “toll” on people’s liberty and well-being.#

 

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