7 January 2022, Sittwe
Some lanes on the streets of Sittwe will be designated for sidecar and three-wheeled motorbikes, according to the Arakan State Administration Council.
Growing traffic congestion in the Arakan State capital is driving calls for change, including reports that the military government intends to ban three-wheelers from Sittwe’s roads.
U Than Tun, a member of the Arakan State Administration Council, said some of Sittwe’s lanes would be designated for sidecar and three-wheeled motorbikes to deal with traffic jams.
“To make it easier for pedestrians to cross the road, lanes for three-wheeled motorbikes and sidecars will be designated in Sittwe,” he said, adding that reports that sidecars and three-wheeled motorbikes would be banned were not true.
“This does not mean that three-wheeled motorbikes and sidecar licences will be revoked. We have plans to allow three-wheeled motorbikes and sidecars to use one-way systems. The idea is to have a three-wheeled motorbike and sidecar [plan] designed to be able to drive them properly,” he explained.
A meeting will be held with the Traffic Rules Enforcement Supervisory Committee to determine permitted routes for sidecars and three-wheeled motorbikes, which will be implemented this year, according to the Arakan State Administration Council.
U Hla Thein, a spokesperson for the Arakan State regime council, told journalists on January 3 that the military government planned to remove tricycles and other three-wheeled motorbikes from Sittwe’s streets.
The move has been criticised as a major threat to the livelihoods of sidecar and three-wheeled motorbike taxi drivers, and their families.
Designated lanes for three-wheelers would be a good solution to congestion concerns, said sidecar driver U Oo Maung, who noted that services like the one he provides were in response to demand for a cheaper transportation alternative to conventional taxis.
“If there is a designated area for sidecars and three-wheeled motorbikes, it will be convenient for pedestrians. For passengers, it is no longer affordable. It will cost more to travel [without three-wheelers],” he added.
There are more than 1,000 sidecars and about 300 three-wheeled motorbikes in the Arakan State capital Sittwe, according to an association representing three-wheeled motorbike drivers.
The number of people who earn their living as sidecar and three-wheeled motorbike taxi drivers is increasing year by year due to a scarcity of jobs in Arakan State.