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Yangon starts shipping services to Coco Island

Yangon started on Tuesday cargo and passenger shipping services to the remote Coco Islands, over 400 kilometres south of Myanmar’s economic capital.

The Yangon Region Transport Authority will be operating the ferry service that will run once a month. The estimated travel time is 40 hours one way.

“We provide this route for the convenience of the residents and government staff working at there,” said Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein. “We thought of connecting the islands to Yangon, we found out water transport is the cheapest.”

The ferry will sail every first week of the month so residents and government staff can decide when they would like to go to Yangon.

The transport service is expected to spur development in the islands as the ferry can carry construction materials. The vessel will anchor in the island for two days before returning to Yangon.

“Coco Island is an important security outpost for our country. So we will not allow for leisure trips and tourists,” said U Phyo Min Thein.

YRTA signed a contract with a private individual to provide the vessel and operating the service will cost K20 million (US$13,600) every month.

”We already know that we will lose the money if we run this route but we are focusing more on the convenience of the Coco Island residents,” the chief minister said. “We are not creating this ship for any interest. Besides transportation, we aim to provide 24- hour electricity through solar power in Coco Island later.”

The ship can carry about 300 tonnes of goods but YRTA has yet to come up with the pricing for the transport of goods.

For the inaugural trip on Tuesday YRTA will not charge fees for passengers and goods.

”This ship can carry about 60 passengers but today about 40 passengers will join in this trip,” said U Hla Aung, joint secretary of YRTA, adding the ship will be carrying 279 tonnes of construction materials and food products for the residents.

If the passengers want to join to ride this ship, they must inform to general administration department of Thanlyin Township.

Responsible officials will check to see to it that the passengers are the residents of Coco or the government’s staff working there.

”We need to inform to custom department both for passengers and goods and we need to secure port clearance,” U Hla Aung said.

Daw Myint Myint Than from North Dagon Township, was very happy to learn about the regular transport services to Coco Island, which is her hometown.

“I was born in Coco Island and later I moved to Yangon,” she said. “To join this trip, my relatives have to give me recommendation. In the past, we can’t go there as we wish. But now, the residents from Coco Island can come and go to Yangon every month.”

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Source : Myanmar Times

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