Motor boats operating in Yangon River helps transport passengers during COVID

18 September 2020                       

During this period, the motor boats in Yangon are now operating maintenances to help the easy transportation and the safety of the passengers.                                    

Now the COVID-19 pandemic is re-emerging, some livelihoods are going on with the observance of stay at home plan because they can’t ignore their living. Some work has to continue to help uninterrupted transport. The Sampan Supervisory Committee instructed the respective sampan gates to reduce the number of passengers from normal capacity.

U Ye Myint, Supervisor, Tanhlyat Sampan Supervisory Committee, said, “During this time, we only reduce the number of passenger onboard and we do not load the passengers down. We used to run with 7 passengers but now with only 5 passengers. We are doing in this way so that the passengers could follow the social distancing measures with at least 3 feet away onboard. We could go with 10 passengers but we run with 5 or 7 persons. And motor boats are restricted not to run during the time-limited curfew between 12 pm to 4 am. But in the serious cases, we allow only those who have an instruction from the relevant authorities of the township. And the passengers without wearing masks are not allowed onboard and the drivers are also forced to wear masks. We all will be fine if all of the public helps and follows the rules during the COVID. Our supervisory teams are always educating the passengers to follow the rules. We have already arranged for the passengers to wash with soap. For the passengers, take onboard with the masks on. This is for the good not only for you but also the others. And it is the rules of the country. Everything will be fine and the COVID will come to an end soon if we follow the rules."

In Yangon, there are numerous motor boats running to and fro bank to bank. Average 40 numbers of sampans have been providing waterway transport service for the passengers.

Ko Win Aung Htet, Sampan Driver from Dala Township, said, “The rate of our service has dramatically decreased currently. Some factories and workshops are now closed amid Covid-19. So, the numbers of passenger relatively decrease as the companies are now closed. We have to serve only half of the normal rate. We motor boat men are now facing the big troubles in our living. The passengers are instructed to ride the boat only if they wear masks as part of the preventive measure against the virus and the passengers need to be some distance apart each other. We can carry 10 passengers per boat but now only 7 passengers. Not only motor boat drivers but also all of the employees from industries and factories are now facing the difficulties at this moment. We are lucky rather than them because we can still work for our living and we can earn 4,000 to 5,000 kyats per day but they cannot work completely right now because of the closures. We will be extremely happy if this pandemic might end sooner”.

There are restrictions on the types and sizes of the motor boats. The numbers of passengers depend on the size of the boat and the number of passengers has to be reduced from the normal capacity according to the rules of social distancing. Moreover, the boat charge has to be fixed to be able to avoid higher charge.

Ma Theint Theint Thu, passenger, said, “Right now, we are following the rules which they are released. We are wearing the masks. I am not used to go one place to another but right now I arrive back from Pyapon for emergency case. The Sampan jetties are following health restriction issued from the Ministry of Health and Sports. I would like to urge that all the people need to follow the rules and restrictions during this pandemic period, if a person does not follow it, the bad consequences will occur. Therefore, all the citizens have to abide by health restrictions and orders systematically.”

Sampans are one of the transportation modes that can speedily carry the passengers to easily reach their destination. For that reason, most of the people rely on sampans as it can save time. Therefore, travel by sampans is the important and most dependable mode of transportation in the transport sector.

Zwe Mahn, Hein Min Latt and May Myat Noe