Friday, August 18, 2017

Laws hard to enforce on unfinished Yangon-Mandalay road

The Ministry of Construction is trying to speed up completion of the notoriously dangerous Yangon-Mandalay highway, and upgrade its safety standards amid the annual rise in accidents.

Police monitor speeds on the Yangon-Mandalay highway. PhotoPolice monitor speeds on the Yangon-Mandalay highway. Photo

“[The] highway is a half-finished case,” said Union Minister for Construction U Win Khine said at a National Traffic Danger and Road Safety meeting on July 7. “We’re trying to quickly get it up to international highway-level quality so that we can practise highway law.”

In September 2015, the Ministry of Construction announced that it had finished building boundaries on the highway, creating start and end points, installing on- and off-ramps and exchanges, naming the road and numbering the cross-streets, and adding tollbooths and bus stations, U Myint Maung Win, deputy permanent secretary from Ministry of Construction, said on July 13. They have fixed the highway from mile marker zero to mile marker 352.6 in Hlegu township, he said. Beyond 352.6, motorcycles aren’t allowed.

If drivers see something anything dangerous on the half-constructed highway, they can call the highway police force – its number is listed on the signs along the highway.

“They are opening cases,” U Myint Maung said. “Highway law is set but roads are not yet up to highway standards so the law is difficult to enforce. Motorcycles are not allowed on parts of the road, according to the highway law, but when riders ask where they are allowed to ride, we have no answer.”

Right now, if a motorcyclist is killed by a car in a highway accident, the driver of the car holds no responsibility, he said. Highway law cannot be practised, he said, because the road is not perfectly finished.

In the first half of 2016, an average of nearly 14 people were killed in traffic accidents countrywide each day.

Translation by Khine Thazin Han