Travel restrictions

Increasingly problematic travel restrictions weigh on Rakhine State

Myanmar’s military regime has tightened travel restrictions in North Rakhine State, where tensions continue to escalate between the army and the Rakhine Army (AA).

Since fresh fighting erupted in August, the junta has imposed travel restrictions on the Ponnagyun-Rathedaung, Agnumaw-Maungdaw and Yaychanbyin-Agnumaw routes.

The Shwe Pyi Tan ferry service, which operates an extensive network of shipping options in Rakhine State, has been forced to halt operations linking Sittwe with outlying destinations including Minbya townships, Mrauk- U, Rathedaung and Buthidaung since September 15, at the behest of the junta-controlled water transport department.

On Wednesday, Shwe Pyi Tan was also ordered to suspend Sittwe-Pauktaw operations until further notice.

“I don’t know why he was suspended. Our manager told us to suspend operations. And we don’t know how long it’s going to be,” a supervisor with the Shwe Pyi Tan ferry service told Pauktaw.

There are 179 villages in the township of Pauktaw, and the majority of the inhabitants trade with Sittwe for their livelihood. The latest travel restrictions will create various difficulties for locals, warned U Maung Maung of Thae Kone Village.

“We will have difficulty traveling for business or social purposes. Small traders will also suffer. It only costs 5,000 kyats to travel between Pauktaw and Sittwe [overland]. But it costs 40,000 to 50,000 kyat to charter a boat,” he said.

Myanmar’s military has also ordered non-ferry passenger boats offering Pauktaw-Sittwe routes to suspend operations, according to boat owners.

Fishing business owner U Tun Tin from Nga Pyi Tet village in Pauktaw township said: “People in Pauktaw township mainly depend on express boats, and people in villages in Pauktaw township Pauktaw mainly rely on ferries. The army should not ban these ferries as the villagers will suffer various hardships.

Motorboats in Mrauk-U Township, Rakhine State.