Friday, August 18, 2017

‘Time will tell’ whether YBS is a success, official says

A total of 2000 buses have already been imported by the government to fulfil the demand, said Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein on June 9 at the press conference marking the anniversary of the new government.

The arrival of new buses in for YBS. Aung Khant / The Myanmar TimesThe arrival of new buses in for YBS. Aung Khant / The Myanmar Times

The YBS began on January 16 in an effort to reform the outdated public transport system, but it is still marked by difficulties and flaws. However, the government has taken steps to bring Yangon Bus System (YBS) in line with the international standard of public transport.

“Now the government and private companies have already imported a total of 2600 new buses and will replace old buses systematically,” said U Phyo Min Thein.

On June 20, all buses in operation currently are going to be sent to smelting factories. After entrusting the buses, owners will get a slip – used for importing vehicles – to buy new buses.

“Under this arrangement, individual bus owners can continue to take part in the YBS or resign. If they would like to continue their involvement, they can be included in public-private partnership [PPP] companies as shareholders.

“We want bus drivers and conductors not to worry about making money. We are arranging to provide a regular salary [monthly] for running the buses systematically. We will implement the scheme for small-scale and medium-scale businessmen,” the chief minister said.

In Yangon, over two millions commuters rely on public transport, so the government changed the system, said regional Electricity, Industry and Transportation Minister Daw Nila Kyaw.

“Changing the buses is easy. But for the YBS, not only the buses but the people are also included – bus owners, drivers and conductors. So we need to take the time to improve the YBS.

“On June 16, the YBS will be 5 months old. As for me, I want to say ‘please wait and see’ and ‘time will tell’,” she said.

In April, 26 MPs pointed out the flaws and issues of the YBS. MP U Wai Phyo Han submitted a question regarding the YBS and 26 other regional lawmakers debated in parliament.

After that, some rumours came out that U Phyo Min Thein warned MPs, ministers and other officials from the YBS not to make any remarks about the bus system in public.

The chief minister denied doing so at the press conference.

“I would like to tell people not to be afraid to take on the challenges in this period with a lot of changes.

“I have never told ministers not to say anything [about the YBS] to the public,” he said, adding that he could not give instructions to MPs what not to say in public.

The Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA) supervises and oversees public transport in the city as well as ensuring PPP companies fulfil the PPP requirements. It also arranges the formation of the Yangon Fund Co, as a private company.

To purchase 3000 new buses, the government will use K70 billion as an investment from the 2016-17 fiscal year.