Maungtaw-Kyikanpyin-Kyeinchaung road is the main street in northern Maungtaw district, but its surface could be generously described as “tertiary” — basically coarse stones and rocks. We left Kyeinchaung for Khamaungseik in the far north, so as to be able to present our readers — the public — with actual situations on the ground.
After leaving Kyeinchaung, the first village we arrived at was Aungsitpyin village. Here we were confronted with a choice of feeder roads — the left one leading to Taungpyo Letwe, and the right road leading to Khamaungseik. We chose the latter, reaching Yanaungmyin village, which is one of the Na Ta La villages. At the head to the entrance of the village, there can be seen a signboard which reads: “Yanaungmyin village (Na Ta La) 2009”.
The signboard depicts the alternate name for the village as well as the year it was built. The village, with a population of over 500 and rising, is full of small, spare houses. All its houses are roofed with corrugated iron sheets and walled with bamboo strips and woven-mats. At the head of the village, adults and children were found. Most were children and females. Middle-aged youths were not seen, seeming to have gone away for work or on business or for education. It was learnt that most of the residents here belonged to the ethnic group known as Thet. Under the aegis of the National Management Committee for natural disasters, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, in cooperation with the Rakhine State Cabinet, supported provisions bought with national funds for natural disasters to the populace in this village.
U Khin Win, a responsible person in the village, asserted that they would never, ever abandon the land which belonged to the village. As we moved on to start our journey, we passed by the villages — Wetkyein, Padakar and Ywathit. Along the road, golden paddy fields and the beauty of the May Yu mountain range mesmerized us. Because it is such a fertile region, paddy plantations are numerous and fruitful. Paddy harvesters and carriers were seen here and there. Bullock-carts were not found because the people in the area seldom use bullock-carts in carrying paddy after the harvest. We saw the villagers carrying usually sized bundles of paddy at both sides of yokes on their shoulders, from the threshing ground to their destinations.
Buffalo, cows and goats had been put out to pasture to feed themselves in harvested paddy fields. Not used as beasts of burden, the cows in the area seemed not to be as strong as those in upper Myanmar, as were the goats. The State Cabinet has been carrying out arrangements for upgrading breeds of cows and goats.
Soon we reached the Tamanthar village-tract, which has a rural dispensary and schools. In this village, ethnic groups such as Myo, Khami, Thet and Dainet are reported to have lived for a long time. We presented dry rations such as rice, cooking oil and salt, giving words of encouragement as well.
After passing Mingalar Nyunt & Natyarkai villages, we entered the town of Khamaungseik. It is a town perhaps in name only. Arrangements for building infra-structure is underway, which will endow it with the features of a typical town. It was designated to be upgraded as a town by the Ministry of Home Affairs this year. Similarly, Khamaungseik in northern Maungtaw and Myinlut in southern Maungtaw were also upgraded, it was learnt.
Also underway are plans to launch a town building with 5 wards. After construction of the town, it is expected that a border trade zone will be built with Bangladesh. The office of the township administration had also been opened to help build up Khamaungseik. It is only 40 mies far away from Maungtaw, making it likely that locals from around the region will enjoy all developments in communication, education and health by implementing projects, gaining peace and maintaining stability and development of the border area.
Provided that local ethnics and other believers peacefully co-exist and share their woes and happiness, peace and stability will last a long time, perhaps forever, and mutual trust will be able to be built among them.
In the evening, our team returned from Khamaungseik. The sun has set in the west. The convoy is moving rapidly along golden paddy fields with great momentum. Meanwhile a flock of egrets has flown into the range of Munt May Yu to roost. We saw farmers returning from fields, hearing sweet sounds of small bells from the pagoda from afar. I firmly believe that Maungtaw area will soon be peaceful, stable and developed for its abundant fertile land and nice season, if and when the local ethnics and other believers will peacefully co-exist.
Myint Maung Soe