Buthidaung was busy yesterday, with traders conducting business, goods being transported and merchants displaying their wares.
The activity was a sign that stability and security are returning to the region after business in this border town ground to a halt three months ago following the deadly 25 August terrorist attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which has been described by the government as a terrorist group.
Buthidaung, a town in northern Rakhine State, is close to the Bangladesh border, making commerce its main activity, with trade and transport providing good job opportunities. The trade and flow of merchandise stopped after 25 August, causing the usually crowded streets and markets to become deserted. Regular work for locals disappeared.
As regional stability returns and the security situation improves, trading activities have started again in Buthidaung. With the re-entry of the traders, markets were reopened.
“The economy of Buthidaung was quite good before the terrorist attacks. About 10 to 15 motor launches (cargo boats) came to town every day. After ARSA terrorists attacked Yathedaung Township and Maungtaw Township, the economy stopped”, said U Tin Yi, a businessperson who lives in No. 7 port, Buthidaung.
U Tin Yi said the health of the town’s economy could be measured by the number of trucks rumbling through the streets transporting goods
“Rice is the main business in our township. Following it are regional products including dried fish, bamboo and thatched roof material. At the moment, business had declined significantly.
Not even a single truck departed in a day, while in the past there were about 50, 60 trucks plying every day” said U Tin Yi, comparing the past and present commercial climate. Buthidaung Township has seven wards and 85 village tracts. The population is over 300,000, of which ethnic nationals made up about 50,000.
U Tin Yi said that healthy commerce requires peace.
“The main thing I want is to have peace and stability in the region. Especially security. If security is good, the region will be stable and there will be trust that there’ll be more business opportunities.
Ethnic Rakhine nationals and ethnic nationals all over Myanmar are brothers. We seek the help of all when the Rakhine people are facing difficulties.” U Maung Mya Tha, a Buthidaung town elder, said the economy is improving, but continued security is needed to ensure future stability.
“Currently, Buthiduang is becoming peaceful. After 25 August, there were the terrorist acts. After the Tatmadaw and border police forces provided regional security, terrorists fled to the other country or they may be hiding in the mountains and forests. For now, it is peaceful. I can’t say what will happen in future.
Because terrorists have plans and can conduct terrorist acts, I think”, U Maung Mya Tha said.
“The main requirement is security. Security is the main requirement of ethnic nationals. We can stay only when there is security.
If security is lax, terrorists can re-enter. Security must be tight to prevent terrorist acts. Only when there is full security will the ethnic nationals live with full confidence” he added.
U Maung Mya Tha said the restored prosperity of his town will have a positive effect on the region.
With the government forming a Rakhine State humanitarian assistance, resettlement and development committee, it is hoped that, in the near future, not only Yathedaung, Buthidaung and Maungtaw in northern Rakhine State but the entire state will develop in tandem, he said.