August 12, 2017

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One-year journey of Ministry of Transport and Communications

Memorandum signing ceremony of cooperation of Myanmar-Japan transportaion sector. Photo: MNA

The transport sector needs to be upgraded to be on a par with the characteristics of urban life as all the people for various reasons are relying on land, water or air routes in their daily life.
Once, Jarneikyaw Ma Ma Lay wrote about a scene of a journey from Yangon to Delta depicting a scene on a paddle steamer of the Irrawaddy Flotilla of Pyitawtha times saying, “As soon as a ship moors alongside the quay, the new passengers rush to the ship and take seats on dust and rubbish left by passengers of the previous journey. It seems convenience to them although there is a pile of leftovers around them. They seem immune to such environment.”
Reforms
The Ministry of Transport and Communications today puts all its energy into transforming the transport sector to shift passengers and goods through convenient mode of transportation.
Existing as the separate ministries in the past were merged as the Ministry of Transport and Communications under which 18 departments were organized to contribute to social development, to bring about sustainable development, to be in line with international norms and to create job opportunities.
ADB’s assistance
To adopt a transport policy which is essential to make a change in the existing transport sector of low standard, ADB’s experts gave advice and the policy was adopted in May. Its main objective is to create efficient and cost-effective system, said Union Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Zin Maung.
In accord with the policy, five-year plans each for air, water and railway sectors were made under the National Transport Master Plan 2016-2040 designed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
For the current year, the previous government’s projects that will not benefit to the people will be stopped and within the budget frame, money will be spent on projects benefiting the people will be implemented with fast pace to be lasting for a long time.
Spread wings
Altogether 48 agreements for international flight have been made so far. Moreover, framework agreements among ASEAN and CLMV countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have also been made. During one-year period, flight agreements between Myanmar and Bhutan and between Myanmar and Netherlands and Draft agreement between Myanmar and Indonesia were made.
Currently, Myanmar’s airports accommodate 32 international flights and ten domestic flights. In the time of new government, four international flights namely Hong Kong Express Airlines, Thai Lion Air, Emirates Airline and Air KBZ operate business.
Myanmar National Airlines, the flag carrier of Myanmar, was transformed into corporation and it conducts international and domestic flights, chartered flights and fixed base operations to earn more money.
Flights are scheduled to and from 28 airports in the country and international flights are also expanded. In August last year Yangon-Singapore-Yangon flight, in September Yangon-Mandalay-Bangkok-Yangon flight, in October Bodgaya flight and in November Changmai flight were added.
In the last Fiscal Year there was only over 500000 air passengers but up to January this year the number increased to nearly 900000. The Union minister said that online sale of air ticket has been used to double the amount of passengers.
Myanmar engineers conducted heavy maintenance of an ART plane together with foreigner engineers in April last year.

Myitngel bridge on Yangon-Mandalay Railroad section. Photo: MNA

Acknowledgement
In coming May, Europe Air Safety Board will come to town to check the safety measure and issue air safety certificate. So, planes will no need to go abroad to be repaired and as a result spending of foreign exchange can be reduced.
Water transport
Transporting goods and passengers by waterway is cost-effective. Such navigable rivers in the country as Ayeyawady, Chindwin, Sittoung, Thanlwin and Kaladan and many others are flowing in the country. But, deforestation and indiscriminate mining have caused silting, floods and bank erosions and resulted in changing of water course.
The minister expressed that lack of waterway channel management and river training is the reason for floods in the rainy season and silting up in the hot season and therefore measures are being taken to mitigate disasters. He also said that his team cannot cure the major disease but is struggling with minor illness. He exposed that Regions’ fund were spent on 133 bank erosion prevention tasks this year.
Maritime safety
To ensure safety in the maritime sector and to preserve environment, Myanmar is abiding by the rules and regulations of International Maritime Organization.
According to the Union minister, measures are being taken to improve waterway system, seven projects are implemented using Union’s fund and 13 with emergency fund in Sagaing, Magway, Bago and Ayeyawady Regions and Shan State.
With the assistance of World Bank, a plan to improve river watercourse along Ayeyawady river from Mandalay to Nyaung U has been made. Another attempt to prevent bank erosion is test cultivation of Vartivar grass in states and regions. If good result comes out the project will be continued.
Inland Water Transport
First, there was a plan for Inland Water Transport to transform into corporation. But this plan can cause hardships for government staff and thus not to cause harm to them it reenter into Union budget.
The Union minister explained that in the future, Chindwin Water Transport Corporation, Ayeyawady Water Transport Corporation, Rakhine Water Transport Corporation will emerge under public companies or joint ventures. He also said that systematic measures are taken to create corporate to improve waterborne transportation.
In accord with the National Transport Master Pan, container wharfs that can handle loading and unloading will be built – four at the bank of Bhamo, Mandalay, Pakokku and Magway along Ayeyawady river and two at Monywa and Kalaywa along Chindwin river.
Loans from Belgium
Mandalay has been chosen to build the first wharf and the test run was conducted between Yangon and Hsimekon for plying container ships.  It is targeted to build the wharf by 2020 to transport goods between Yangon and Mandalay by waterway. To get loans for improving waterway, coordination is being made with Belgium through the Ministry of Planning and Finance.
As Yangon port handles over 90 percent of goods, jetties and related services, computerized systems, and Port-EDI project to contribute to National Single Window are under implementation with the assistance of Japan. The services will be available in October.
Railway
As regards, the railway sector, electric trains plying on the Strand Road were immediately stopped as there were just ten passengers a day. Arrangements are being made to channel nearly 3 million USD and 200 million MMK which were slated for this project into other projects that will benefit to people. With the assistance of Japan ODA loans, Yangon circular train system will be upgraded.
The ministry is trying to change Myanma Railway to become an organization on which people can rely. To meet this end, plans are being made with the help of ADB experts to upgrade railroads across the country.
Road transport
In the road transport sector car registrations for various kinds of cars have been made for road safety.
To reduce fatality due to accidents on roads, a national level council for prevention against road accident was formed  and it supervises road safety measures.
Encouraging motorcyclists to wear helmets, car drivers to fasten their seatbelts and to follow traffic rules can reduce traffic accidents.
To ease traffic jams and to expose traffic offences, radio frequency identification system is to be installed and in that regard, consultants are hired to implement the program.
National Cyber Security
In the communication sector, expanding communication networks, providing better services, cooperation with international community, improving cyber security and introducing e-Government process are at the top of priority list.
Myanmar Communications needs to be transformed into corporation so do Myanma Port Authority and Inland Water Transport.
Corporations are State-owned and a slight change in the administrative sector is done for them to be able to do business independently. It will be the State-owned or the public owned. The government will supervise them according to policies and laws, said the Union minister.
Satellite channel
A five-year agreement was made in May between Myanmar Communications and Intelsat Global Sale and Marketing Ltd. According to the agreement Myanmar Sat 1 was established. Arrangements are being made to hire satellite channels to ministries and private companies with reasonable price.
Myanmar telephone density jumped to 104.62 percent in January this year from 86.20 percent in 2015-2016 Fiscal Year. It means the number of mobile phones increased from over 44 million to over 54 million.
The Internet usage has also increased from 70.60 percent to 88.95 percent meaning it jumped from the population of 36 million to 46 million.
Mobile network to cover the whole country it needs to erect 16965 towers. Of them, 14872 have been completed up to January this year. The length of fiber cables touches 35362.27 kilometers and more cables of 10730.02 kilometers are being connected.
Post office
Japan is rendering assistance to development of Myanmar post office. Entrepreneurs within and without the country are allowed to run express mail services. Other businesses such as money order, online shopping and mobile money transfer will be expanded.
Meteorology and Hydrology
With the assistance of Japan, Meteorology Centre Center in MraukU and Hydrology Center in Myawady were opened this year. Seven hydrology survey stations were upgraded to forecast stations.
One of the aims of Ministry of Transport and Communications is to create an independent transport sector free from
interference of government to contribute to national development and to fulfill the needs of people.
In the communication sector also, the ministry is trying to expand its communication coverage reaching far flung areas such as Kachin State, Naga mountain, Chin State, Rakhine State and Shan State, etc.
Change
As per today’s request, the transport sector sees a lot of changes. And mobile phones are just for the elites in the past, but now the device can be
seen in the hands of almost everyone.
These are the efforts of the Ministry of Transport and Communications which helps build the nation to become prosperous.

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