Taxis left unregistered as drivers point to red tape

Only 3 percent of the city’s taxis have registered with Yangon’s vehicle supervisory committee, nearly six months after it assumed registration responsibilities.

Drivers say they are reluctant to sign up with Ma Hta Tha as they are already forced to register with two other government agencies, duplicating time and expense.

Yangon City Development Committee had been one of the three government bodies registering taxis in Yangon, but it transferred its registration duties to the Yangon Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles in September 2014.

The supervisory committee, which is generally known by its Myanmar language abbreviation Ma Hta Tha, is not a direct branch of the government, but is closely associated with Yangon City Development Committee.

Ma Hta Tha chair U Hla Aung said there were 55,131 taxis registered in the city when YCDC transferred it authority to register vehicles last year – though he added the number may not be completely accurate. Another government agency, the Road Transport Administration Department, has registered over 57,000 taxis.

More recently, the number of registrations collected by Ma Hta Tha has fallen short, with only 1742 taxis current registered.

“After we became responsible for the task, 630 new taxis registered and 1112 taxis extended their registrations,” said U Hla Aung.

U Hla Aung said that while taxi drivers are usually aware of the necessity of registering, they often avoid their responsibilities. Ma Hta Tha officials have distributed pamphlets to educate drivers.

“All taxis in Yangon must register as a city taxi. All taxi drivers and owners should cooperate with us,” he said.

To register, drivers need a book proving car ownership, records of place of residency, drivers licence and copy of national identification card. The fee is K3000 to Ma Hta Tha, while additional costs preparing documents and painting the taxi logo on the vehicle costs K11,500.

U Hla Aung said Ma Hta Tha is reviewing whether the cost is a burden to owners.

“After the review, we will present our findings to Yangon Regional government and will look to reduce the amount,” he said.

Some drivers have also complained about waiting times, which is currently about two weeks. U Hla Aung said authorities are looking to reduce the time as much as possible.

The 1964 Motor Vehicle Law allows government authorities and traffic police to take action against unregistered city taxis.

“We don’t want to take action, so we urge drivers to be disciplined,” said U Hla Aung. “We want taxi drivers to be clean and systematic, to follow the road rules and to make it easy and convenient for local and international passengers.”

Taxi drivers often do not see the need to register, claiming there is too much red tape already for their industry.

Drivers say they face registration from three different government bodies, including YCDC, as well as the Road Transport Administration Department and the Business Licence Office. It is the Business Licence Office that issues the red licence plates that are required for taxis.

“I don’t see a need to do city registration. The Road Transport Administration Department already collects our addresses and documentation, so going to one more agency makes us busier and costs more,” said taxi driver U Maung Maung.

“If we do everything three times, it costs us three times as much.”

City taxis have also transitioned to English language from Myanmar, aiming to make it easier for tourists.

Ma Hta Tha could also see its responsibilities increase if new laws on traffic are passed. Laws are currently being drafted which could see significant changes to taxi registration, said U Hla Aung.

“We know a law is being drafted. After that we will reform Ma Hta Tha and also reform taxis,” he said. “There will be designated taxi stands and fixed price meters in the cabs.”


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