RANGOON — Next month commuters in Rangoon will no longer be able to catch rides in Toyota Hilux pickup trucks, one of the city’s cheapest modes of public transportation.
The Rangoon Division government will prohibit the use of the compact trucks for passenger transportation in the city after Feb. 28, according to the division’s motor vehicle department, which said the order would be effective in 33 townships that fall within the boundary of the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC).
Instead, the government hopes to encourage drivers to sell their old trucks and purchase approved minibuses, which are only slightly more expensive. After the new policy goes into effect, Hilux drivers will still be allowed to carry goods within the 33 townships of YCDC, and they can continue to carry passengers in the 10 townships outside the city limits.
More than 40 Hilux service lines currently operate transportation services in the city, with about 800 trucks, according to Hla Aung, chairman of the Rangoon All Bus Lines Supervising Committee, which falls under Rangoon Division’s Central Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles and Vessels.
“Hilux trucks are weak in passenger safety. They are outdated models that are more suitable for transporting goods,” he told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.
He said the trucks had been approved for passenger transportation in the past due to difficulties importing other vehicles into the country under the former military regime. But the Ministry of Transport changed rules for importing cars in 2011, allowing drivers to replace decades-old clunkers with newer models.
“Hilux trucks are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents where people are killed or injured, because there are so many passengers crammed into the vehicle and even on the roof,” said Kar Kyaw, another official with the bus committee, who said 45 of the trucks flipped over in crashes last year. “It’s time to replace the Hilux passenger trucks with minibuses for the safety of passengers.”
He said drivers could sell their trucks for between 7 million kyats and 9 million kyats (US$7,000 to $9,000), while imported minibuses can be purchased on installment plans at a price of about 10 million kyats.
The bus committee says 90 trucks have already been phased out and replaced with minibuses. These included Hilux trucks and Toyota Dyna trucks, which are mostly used to transport goods but sometimes used to carry passengers.
The 10 townships outside the YCDC area include Htan Tapin, Hmawbi, Twante, Khayan, Thanlyin, Thone Khwa, Kaw Muu, Kun Chan Kone, Taikkyi, Hlegu.