Transportation difficulties may lead to commodities shortages in rural parts of Arakan State, according to locals.
Amid a COVID-19 outbreak in the region, buses and ferry boats suspended operations last month. Many stores are closed and prices are reportedly rising, adding to concerns about supply chains in the region.
“Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we don’t dare to go to urban areas,” said U Maung Than Yin, a local from Yinchaung village in Ponnagyun Township.
“Transportation is difficult. Some shops have closed in the town. We can’t buy the things we need. The price of a bottle of cooking oil rises to K1,500, up from K1,000. Top-up cards for mobile phones are sold at K1,500 per unit, up from K1,000. Consequently, odd-job workers are facing crisis. In the long term, it may cause commodity shortages.”
U Maung Than Yin added that shortages were already being reported in some surrounding villages, such as Minzichaung and Kyeinchaung.
Locals from rural areas in Kyauktaw Township likewise have been unable to go to urban markets because bus services have been largely suspended for about two weeks. U Nay Min Tun from Ohnpadee village said the prices of the remaining goods in his village have increased as a result.
“If buses don’t provide transport service, we miss the chance to go shopping. If any driver who went to Sittwe returns to the village, they will be ordered to join quarantine. As such, no driver goes to the town,” he added.
The Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) and the Rakhine State Chambers of Commerce and Industry (RSCCI) held a meeting on August 31 to discuss practical efforts to avoid shortages of basic foodstuffs and personal goods in Arakan State, and to stabilise prices.
During a video conference on August 28, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi emphasised a focus on ensuring no food shortages in Arakan State amid the coronavirus resurgence.