Khin Maung Htwe
THE Highway Police Department was created on 20 May 2012 to ensure the safe and smooth flow of traffic and passengers along the Yangon-Mandalay expressway, which has a total length of 366 miles and three furlongs.
The department’s functions and responsibilities also include initiating road safety measures, accident investigation and traffic rules enforcement, proactive policing and law enforcement, emergency response, traffic security and maintenance of roads and bridges along the road, which passes through four regions, nine districts, 16 townships and 156 villages.
In order to ensure the rule of law and safety of road users, the Highway Police Force was formed with four offices, including the commanding officer’s office, 16 police stations set up every 23 miles and 40 police outposts set up every nine miles along the road.
Likewise, fleets of patrol cars and motorbikes, administrative vehicles, ambulances and cranes are also available 24 hours a day for passenger buses and private cars running on the road to be deployed while preventing crimes of any sort, including rock-throwing and setting up traps that cause cars to skid off the road to be robbed.
According to official data, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles on the Yangon-Mandalay expressway, with 3,096,921 vehicles in 2012, 3,755,948 in 2013, 4,574,081 in 2014 and 5,454,894 in 2015.
With the dramatic increase in the number of vehicles, there has been an increasing number of road accidents reported every year, triggered by several factors, including the condition of the vehicles and drivers’ negligence.
The Highway Police Force maintains that it has responded to every major car crash on the expressway in a timely and effective manner, including one involving a Land Cruiser that claimed five lives and left two injured in 2012; a bus crash caused by a drowsy driver that killed 11 passengers and injured 16 in 2013; a passenger bus-saloon collision in which all six people in the car were killed in 2014; and an accident in which a passenger bus overturned, killing nine people and injuring 25 in 2015.
According to the Highway Police Force, a fleet of 10 ambulances with standby services are always ready for traffic accidents on the expressway.
Apart from emergency services, the Highway Police also responded to various other incidents, including vehicle breakdowns, tire punctures, fuel shortages and health matters in 2015.
Likewise, the Fire Department has also established 15 fire stations accompanied by 15 fire engines and about 100 fire-fighters to attend to calls for rescue on the expressway.
According to the department, seven vehicular fires were reported on the road last year.
In cooperation with other departments, the Highway Police Force is also conducting road safety measures that include educating road users and testing drivers for alcohol to prevent drunk driving.
Moreover, road safety campaigns are also being launched at the tollgates on the road and advertised on MRTV, MRTV 4, MWD and the Sky Net police channel.