Friday, February 12, 2010

Arakan's Inland Harbor to be Privatized

2/11/2010

By Takaloo, Sittwe : The Department of Inland Water Transport in western Burma's Arakan State has been taking preparations to privatize the main inland harbor on Satrokya Creek in the capital Sittwe, said an official of the harbor on Thursday.

"Since last January, the authority has been undertaking preparations for the details of the harbor, including the data of all official staff, shipmen, and laborers, with a plan to privatize the harbor," he told Narinjara on condition of anonymity.

He added that it is also rumored any worker with less than ten years of service would be dismissed and any worker above the age of 50 would be pensioned off before handing over the harbor to a private company.

There are more than 1,000 workers, including officials and shipmen, who work for the Sittwe Harbor, which also includes an additional shipyard for repairing ships.

Sittwe Harbor is still very important for inland transportation in coastal Arakan, where rivers and creeks are abundant but road infrastructure is poor.

Currently, there are nearly 30 passenger-cum-cargo ships plying the routes between the capital Sittwe and other towns such as Mrauk-U, Buthidaung, Kyauktaw, and Taungup.

The official added, "It is not known yet to which private company the authority will hand it over to, but one of the ships named Aungthakhon-1, which runs between Sittwe and Taungup, was already given to U Kyauk Taung's Company two years ago."

Following their plans to privatize public businesses across the country before holding the election this year, the Burmese military junta has already given some of the petrol pumps, cinema halls, land, and one airline over to the private sector.

According to local officials, the military authority also has plans to privatize the Myoma Cinema Hall and public warehouses in Sittwe, as well as many other public factories and industries across Arakan State.

Ref: Narinjara

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