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On Monday, a curfew in Mandalay was lifted after 39 days in effect, but business as usual has not been restored in the central Burmese city.
Grocery sellers in Mandalay’s largest fruit and vegetable market say they are still feeling the effects of the curfew, which was enforced after religious violence racked the city in July.
“The riots are over, but the intensity remains,” said Tint Tint, a bamboo shoot seller. “Businesses here have become day-markets only. We must work before dawn to get things ready at the market, which we couldn’t do while the curfew was in place.”
The curfew was initially imposed between the hours of 9pm and 5am. This meant that market sellers were forced to change their operations, as they relied on early starts to buy fresh produce and set up their stalls.
Market vendor Wai Linn said grocers could operate only during the day, which cost them money.
“A lot of grocery sellers operate by day and many had to substantially lower their prices, because otherwise they’ll have to throw away their fresh products and lose more business,” he said.
But the lifting of curfew means other businesses are quickly recovering. Express transportation services will return to regular hours on Friday, as will train schedules from Mandalay’s central railway station.
For the city’s hundreds of motorbike taxis, this is good news.
“I am delighted. Very happy,” said Nyo Par, a moto-taxi driver. “We have been struggling to make a living. If I picked up a passenger around 8:30pm, I had to worry about getting arrested on the way back if it passed the hour of curfew.”
Two people were killed and 14 injured in the violence, which started on 1 July after rumours circulated on social media websites that the Muslim owners of a teashop had raped a Buddhist maid.
In the wake of the riots, more than 1,000 people were arrested for violating curfew.
Mandalay’s residents hope life will soon return to normal, but for some businesses it will take time.