Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sittwe GTC Students Stage Demonstration for School Taxis

Sittwe: Over 300 students from the Government Technical College in western Burma's Arakan State staged a demonstration on Monday by walking on the streets after the school taxis failed to pick up students at the college, one student said.

"We gathered in front of the Rakhine State Peace and Development Council’s office gate and staged the demonstration after the school taxis failed to take us from the school to our homes. Later authorities from the university came and promised to solve the problem immediately, so we stopped our demonstration," he said.

The Government Technical College is located on the outskirts of Sittwe, ten miles from downtown. Students have to travel to and from schools in private taxis.

The demonstration was started by students at 3 pm when they usually return home after school in taxis, and the demonstration finished at 9:30 pm.

"The school taxis could not come to our school yesterday to pick us up because the fuel supply for the taxis was stopped by the authority. Even though some taxis came to our school, they demanded 100 kyat more than the normal fee of 200 kyat. At that time the demonstration broke out at our college and marched on the streets," the student added.

The government recently transferred the business of supplying fuel to the privately-owned Htoo Company, led by business icon Teza. The Htoo Company has been unable to supply fuel to the taxis as before, and the taxis subsequently stopped serving the college due to a loss of profit.

According to student sources, the college authority has been in discussions with local high authorities in Arakan State to solve the problem since the demonstration, but so far no decision has been reached.

"We will continue to stage the demonstration if the taxis are still absent and demanding more fare from us. We have to know the college authorities' decision today about the problem with the school taxis," the student said.

Two years ago there were similar student demonstrations after the taxis raised their fares, but the taxi drivers later cut their fares after the government authority intervened.



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