Operators of Rangoon’s 2,600 “line-cars” have called for an imminent ban on the vehicles to be extended to end of the year.
Owners of the ubiquitous pickup trucks, which have been used as buses-cum-taxis around the former Burmese capital for decades, held a press conference on 26 April at which they claimed that the decision by the Rangoon Division government to replace all line-cars with modern minibuses by 30 April is impractical due to the costs involved.
Than Zaw Min, a committee member on the city’s Shwepyithar Line, said most line-car operators cannot afford to trade in their pickups for minibuses even if they are allowed to pay back on a monthly instalment basis.
“To buy a minibus for 22 million kyat (US$22,000), we have to lay out a down-payment of 11 million kyat,” he said.
“Also, owners have to readapt the minibuses to make them suitable for commuters and that can cost another two or three million kyat,” he added. “It’s not that we don’t want to replace the vehicles. We just can’t afford it.”
The line-car operators said they have sent a letter to President Thein Sein, as well as the parliamentary house speaker and the Rangoon Division Chief Minister, requesting more time for the transformation.