TO cover losses stemming from the water transportation business the Ministry of Transport and Communications is considering turning its Inland Water Transport programme to do either corporatisation or privatisation, said Union Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung yesterday.
“The Asia Development Bank has suggested two options : Either corporatisation or privatisation for the Inland Water Transport to cover from losses. We will carry out the transformation by joining hands with experts depending on the framework and policies laid down at the workshop with ADB,” said U Thant Sin Maung to reporters in Mandalay during his visit to Mandalay Railways Station.
The ministry has invited experts from the ADB and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency to hold a workshop on 19 and 20 May on possibly reforming the Inland Water Transport.
The Inland Water Transport needs to be reformed as it is running at loss, he added.
To compete with private navigation services across the country, the state-owned business announced in October 2014 its plan to build 37 ships for passengers.
The number of navigable transportation service routes operated by IWT has been decreasing as the ministry’s decades-old ships experience delays and higher running costs and cannot compete with modern ships run by private entrepreneurs, according to the ministry.
Meanwhile, the Inland Water Transport programme is facing challenges in transforming its services from a public service to a commercial based operation with its decades old ships being to be able to stand on its own budget as the new government adopted new policy.
Inland Water Transport has been operating its transportation at loss and at affordable prices for people for decades thanks to budget allocations from the successive governments.
IWT has been operating passenger and freight services along the navigable waterways in Myanmar and ferry services, with a fleet of more than 400 ships, including 225 powered vessels, 138 passenger-cum-cargo ships, 27 cargo ships, 30 powered barges, one water tender, 22 tugs, one oil tanker, 149 non-powered vessels, 138 cargo barges, 11 oil barges and 39 station pontoons, according to 2014 statistics from from the ministry.
The passenger-cum-cargo ships owned by the IWT, which is practicing the old system and still using the British-colonial era ships, are not helpful today to fulfil the demand of passengers as they want to arrive their destinations on time.
Inland Water Transport is under the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
Aung Thant Khaing