Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Road Development in Arakan Neglected for Fear of Muslims

Maungdaw (Narinjara): The Buthidaung-Maungdaw motor road, the primary road in western Burma for trade and transport with Bangladesh, collapsed yesterday in three locations after heavy rains, said a businessman from Maungdaw.

"It is the beginning of the rainy season but the road collapsed. All transportation was stopped between Buthidaung and Maungdaw yesterday after the motor road was damaged," he said.

The road is the primary transportation link between western Burma and Bangladesh, and is essential for trade and business between the two countries. Many people, including traders and travelers, have suffered delays since yesterday due to the road damage.

The road is only 16 miles in length, but it is constructed through the difficult terrain of a mountain range.

"The road was constructed by the British around 1910 when it ruled Arakan, but there has been no real renovation since the British left the country in 1948," the businessman added.

The road typically collapses every year, and last year it was severely damaged multiple times throughout the rainy season. However, the authorities have never undertaken work to improve the road.

A senior monk from Maungdaw who did not want to disclose his name said, "We asked the government authority once to repair the road because it is an important road in western Burma. But the authority replied to me that if the road is high quality, many Muslims from Bangladesh would enter into Arakan to settle. So they neglect the road's reconstruction."

The monk added that the authority's excuse was probably sincere, because the authorities know the road is essential in western Burma and the government also uses it for transportation on a daily basis, but still there is no effort made to improve it.

Throughout Arakan State, there are many roads besides the Buthidaung-Maungdaw motor road that are suffering from damage and disrepair.

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