Thailand grants driver licenses to Burmese

Nov 4, 2009 (DVB), Numbers of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand will soon be able to drive vehicles following the Thai government's decision to allow them to possess cars and motorcycles.

Migrants arriving in Thailand who hold temporary resident cards are targeted in the government scheme, Thailand's Matichon newspaper reported, while migrant workers without the cards will need recommendations from their employers.

According to Thailand's Department of Road Transport, it is now in the preparation stage to accept vehicle registration for those who have proper documents.

A Burmese migrant living in Thailand welcomed the decision. "Our bicycles used to be confiscated because we didn't have a sale receipt from shop so we are now happy that we will be able to show licenses," he said.

Those who obtain the documents will have the same rights as Thai drivers, with access to maintenance facilities.

"In the past, Burmese migrant workers didn't have the right to either posses or drive vehicles. We often had to pay fine whenever we got caught by Thai authorities," said Moe Gyo, chairperson of Joint Action Committee for Burmese Affairs.

Burmese migrant workers in Thailand number around two million, who work mainly in the construction, fishery and agriculture industries.

Htoo Chit, director of Thailand-based Grassroots Human Rights Education and Development organisaiton, told DVB that he also welcomed the registration plan but voiced concerns over safety.

"Burmese migrants sustain injuries from road accidents almost every day because they don't know Thai traffic regulations," he said.

"We think it's important for them to know the regulations, so we are now planning training for them. We will officially deal with Thai traffic police department to organize the training."

Reporting by Aye Nai

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