Kyauk Pru: The Arakanese peoples are troubled by the Municipal Department of the U Thein Sein-led regime that proclaims to reduce poverty across the country, but which has actually been enforcing fraudulent laws or rules to collect capitation and other toll taxes from the public in western Burma’s Arakan State.
Municipal officials in uniforms are said to have recently started collecting toll taxes from the commuters and vehicles accessing the jetty after withdrawing the auction bid from Daw Yu Yu Tun, a local business woman. “The municipal department in Kyaukpru has auctioned off the jetty to Daw Yu Yu Tun in April of this year with a price of Kyat 102 Lakhs, but has withdrawn the auction bid from her on charges of breaking auction discipline and rules on 14th of this month. Now officials in full uniform from the department are collecting illegal toll taxes from the people, vehicles and vessels that access the jetty”, said the resident.
One of the municipal officials, who did not want to be named, confirmed that they have to collect the tolls at the jetty directly as there is still no one to take the tender being offered by his department. “We have had to directly collect tolls at the jetty since the 15th of October because there is no one yet to take the tender offered by our department after the license for operating and collecting tolls on the jetty was confiscated from Daw Yu Yu Tun on the 14th of October”, said the official.
He said his department held a meeting on the 6th of October to discuss the tolls being collected at the Japanma Jetty and, according to the decisions of the meeting, the toll license was withdrawn from Daw Yu Yu Tun and a new amount for a particular toll at the jetty was fixed as well.
Daw Yu Yu Tun told Narinjara that she has suffered a great financial loss as the municipal department has withdrawn the toll license from her without refunding the bid money to her.
“I have suffered a great loss because the municipal department has forcibly withdrawn the toll license from me without refunding my bid money for the jetty. I had taken a bid for collecting tolls at the jetty with a price of Kyat 102 Lakhs for a year, signing agreements with the executive officer of the department U Than Lin Tun. I have completed just half of my bid term. Now, far from getting profits, I have lost all my capital to the municipal department and I have come to understand that it was just an illegal license made up by the local officials to fatten their own pockets”, said Daw Yu Yu Tun.
Another resident said, “The municipal department in Kyaukpru Township has already invited tenders for the job of collecting tolls at the Japanma Jetty for the period beginning the 15th of October to the 31st March 2012, from the price of 47 million Kyat for collecting capitation and transportation tolls and of 3.6 Lakh Kyat for collecting tolls from bullock-carts at the jetty. But no one is coming out to take the bid, as dissatisfaction over the illegal toll taxes are increasing amongst the local people here.”
He said that the illegal toll taxes have troubled the poverty stricken local people and no one wants to pay the kinds of toll taxes like those being collected at Japanma Jetty.
“It would be like troubling and suppressing the poor if the municipal or the bidder whosoever would continue to collect such toll taxes from the people in our state”, he said. “Such toll taxes are never heard of in any other regions or states in our country, but have become big burdens on the people here, amidst the current economic crisis in our state. So we would like to urge the government to stop such toll taxes in our state, if it really wants to reduce poverty in the country.”