Boatmen that earn their living discharging and carrying goods and passengers with their small boats have voiced their concerns that they are experiencing difficulties, since they have to work far from their previous port largely as a consequence of the BXT projects.
Due to the long distance between their boats’ berth-place and the port, not only discharging and loading costs for passengers from various towns has soared, but boatmen that rely on servicing the port have also run into trouble.
“While in heavy rain and strong tides, the boats are pulled downwards really hard. Now it is too deep, as they have dug out the sand under the sea, which pulls the boats down. And, that makes it difficult to approach the port. Then giant waves, strong tides and heavy rain can give us terrible troubles. Last year, even though we could get to the port, it was a real challenge being responsible for the safety of the passengers. So, I dare not even imagine the situation in the upcoming rainy season, because boats can no longer berth at this port. We have a lot of difficulties. Those business people have developed those land plots and put them on the market” said boatman U Hla Kyaw.
Sitetway City Port, where BXT is implementing the project was crucial to the livelihood of boatmen from Sitetway, and also for people carrying goods to trade in other towns, weather permitting.
The boatman U Wai Thar Tun said there was a foreboding fear and considerable risk looming in the rainy season as the boats have to berth in deeper water.
“Well, it was close to the port. Now it is very far and really difficult to discharge and load goods. The cost is also too high. And, of course, it is more time-consuming too. Being costly, it affects basic workers like us. The main cause is the berth-place. It is now in deep water. No motor boats can approach. They all go down Sat Ro Kya Creek. But for us, we don’t have real motor boats; they are just ordinary ones.” U Wai Tha Tun said.
There are around 400 porters with 195 boats earning their living, by discharging and loading goods, at the Sitetway port. Most boats trading goods from the villages and towns of Pauktaw, Ponnagyun, Mrauk Oo, Min Bya, Myae Pon, etc., came and docked at this port.