Yangon buses to get feminine touch

Buses in Yangon are to have female conductors for the first time, to improve the quality and safety of service, officials said on June 10.

“We believe women are more suitable as conductors because they are more patient with commuters,” said Myint Aung, a senior official at the Road Transport Administration Department.

The transport authorities have hired 19 women to be conductors, the department said, as part of a campaign to improve public transport.

“Its more difficult to regulate male conductors because after decades on the job they have become habituated to slack discipline,” he said.

The hiring of women conductors is to address reports of poor service and incidents of harassment on the city’s crowded public transport.

The department is also hiring women drivers in response to rising accident rates. Over the past five months there were 122 road accidents in Yangon, leaving 41 dead and 358 injured, according to state media.

There are currently 6,600 buses operating 352 routes in the former capital, Myanmar’s largest city, with an estimated population of at least 6 million.

Poor discipline among transport system staff is a major cause of congestion and accidents in Yangon, the Japan International Cooperation Agency said in a report last month.

The agency is working with city authorities on an urban transport plan that includes a new bus system, improved parking and training of local officials in traffic and transport management.

Yangon’s worsening traffic jams have been blamed on the surging numbers of vehicles on the roads as well as motorists’ failure to abide by traffic laws.

Traffic police also revealed that traffic jams are worsening around schools in Yangon before classes begin in the morning and after they end in the afternoon.

Four traffic police officers have been assigned to each school, Police Lt Colonel Lin Htuton said, adding that the problem of traffic congestion near schools had not been solved despite the best efforts of the police.

“We still can’t solve the traffic problem even though police are deployed at key areas known for traffic congestion,” Lin Htuton said

The problem around schools was partly a result of the lack of parking lots, he said.

Police can only partially reduce traffic jams but the problem will persist, he said.

Despite attempts to improve traffic flow by building flyovers, installing automatic traffic clearance for congested areas and extending roads, traffic jams are worsening.

“The traffic police force has formed a traffic clearance group aimed at handling traffic woes. This group started its work on June 1. Furthermore, traffic police force took action against 1,600 motorists in the first four days of May alone,” Police Colonel Kyaw Htway said.

City residents, however, report that traffic police have had little affect on reducing traffic jams.

Yangon authorities have built three overpasses in a year and half to ease heavy traffic jams, but congestion remains unchanged.

“It is still happening because streets and roads in Yangon are not fully usable,” Police Colonel Kyaw Htwe, the head of Myanmar Traffic Police Force, said recently.

The heavy traffic jams started five years ago when the government changed regulations on car imports. To counter the problem, Yangon’s regional government has been building overpasses, expanding the width of roads and increasing parking spaces by shrinking the size of the sidewalks. The government has built flyovers at three of Yangon’s busiest intersections: Hledan, Shwe Gone Dine and Bayintnaung. Although the flyovers are finished, traffic jams persist. The government has planned to construct a new flyover at Myaynigone junction, which is blocked with traffic during rush hour every day.

Source: ELEVEN Myanmar

To learn more about the changing role of women in the new Myanmar go to article Prospect for women in changing Myanmar.

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