Highway bus lines play major role in ensuring continuous commodity flow during COVID-19

18 September 2020

During this COVID-19 pandemic, Yangon-based highway bus lines are running every day, having temporarily stopped passenger transport but their main attention has been shifted to deliver commodities not to disrupt the continuous flow of the commodity.

In some regions and states, health rules and regulations are strictly being controlled because a lot of local transmitted cases were reported lately. However, there is no official statement prohibiting the commodity flow so highway buses are transporting the goods to the designated places, according to the highway bus service agents. 

U Hla Myo Kyaw, the driver from Shwe Wal Thu Express mainly running Yangon-Myeik-Dawei, said the current situation about delivering commodities to Myeik and Dawei from Yangon Region.

U Hla Myo Kyaw, Driver from Shwe Wal Thu Express, Yangon-Dawei-Myeik Highway Bus Route, said, “We barely have the passengers during this period. We have to transport freight and goods only without passengers. Health checks are conducted throughout the road. We have to be checked as to our health condition at the entrance to Mon State, and there is also the checkpoint between Mon State and Taninthayi Region, and another at the Kywe Ku Bridge from Myeik. Delivering the goods only is not quite beneficial for us. But we are doing this because if we close our gate, our customers will go to other ones and there will be more losses for us.”

Currently, highway buses are transporting only freights which they received from the customers. They are also transporting the goods from other regions and states to Yangon at a loss.

The number of passengers is getting fewer and fewer during this Covid-19 pandemic. And starting from this Covid-19 resurgence period, the highway buses have to transport only goods for 20 days already. As the freights are also important for our living, there are 1 or 2 highway buses per gate transporting the freights daily.

Ko Hein Lin, In-charge of Aunty Win Express, said, “We heard a variety of news every day. At present, our highway buses are running to Taninthayi Region where there is an official letter restricting travel already announced and some places are banned and some are not. They accept if we have recommendation letter and health certificates. In the past our express cars prioritized only passengers. But now we can’t do like so and we will have to focus on commodity flow only. Also today, two freight express cars will depart from here today. Before the period, there were 6 buses departed from here, during this week, there is only two or three buses running a day. We mainly transported commodity and very few passengers who have permission to travel by the authority.”

According to the figures conducted by YRTA during August, there were 227 Yangon-based highway bus lines with 1,192 buses and more than 10,000 passengers were transported. During September when Stay-at-home order is imposed, the number of passengers decreased by almost zero and therefore, the highway bus lines are placing their attention to the commodity transport.

Altogether 1,192 buses were running with over ten thousand passengers per day during last August according to the data of YRTA. These buses are running mainly from Yangon to other States and Regions based on 247 Express Lines. Although Covid-19 resurgence period and so called Stay at home period, passenger express are rarely to transport and all the bus lines are changing to deliver commodity.

Ye Naing (Laukkai), Pyay Thein, Min Tun (Oakkyin) and Soe Min Aung