Room to park required for car imports

There are a lot more cars piling into Yangon than ever before, and less room to park them.

In a bid to cut down on the chaos, individual importers will be required to prove they have a parking space for the vehicle beginning on January 1 – though some question whether the policy will work in practice.

The Supervisory Committee for Car Imports at the Ministry of Commerce announced the new rules on December 18, adding all citizens of Yangon Region aiming to import cars will need a recommendation letter from a township officer pledging the would-be importer has access to a parking space.

The rule change has provoked criticism, particularly that it opens the door for payments in return for the required paperwork, while others say it is too early yet to determine whether it will be effective.

The move comes out of public workshops held in November and December aimed at solving the problems of too many Yangon traffic jams. A number of ideas were floated at the workshops, aiming to speed up traffic while still allowing vehicle imports.

A 2012 move to allow each citizen to import one vehicle over their lifetime is partly responsible for a surge of cars on Yangon’s roads. Some people also sell their right to import vehicles to large-scale importers.

Without the parking garages and lots needed to accommodate this influx, cars often end up parked on the road. This narrows the amount of road open to traffic, slowing down its flow on city streets.

Frequent traffic jams are generating discussion over the possibility of changing import policies – though senior Ministry of Commerce officials have pledged the policies will not change.

Others are looking for novel ways to each congestion, but some, such as U Aung Than Win, chair of the Myanmar Automobile Trade Association, say the new policy of requiring importers to show evidence of a reserved parking space may not be effective.

“I don’t think this new policy is completely correct,” he said. “We will need to wait and see.”

The association had advised to restrict imports to only one person per household instead of every member in a household, which would slow imports.

The required forms will be available at township offices, U Aung Than Win said

“One important thing is [township] administrators should be honest and correct because Myanmar has corrupt systems everywhere,” he said.

U Aung Than Win added he is worried whether the system will be an effective check.

U Soe Htun, chair of the Myanmar Automobile Manufacturers and Distribution Association, said some businesspeople own lots in suburban areas like North Dagon to hold cars.

The system of township administrators recommending whether the car importer has a parking space may be difficult to implement in practice, as it is often hard to find a permanent parking space.

“The policy includes all car sales centres and all personal importers, but we can’t say how effective the policy will be just yet – we will first need to wait four or five months before we can see,” said U Soe Htun.


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