Friday, August 26, 2011

Local People Protest against Capitation Fee in Kyaukpru

Kyauk Pru: A group of local people in Kyaukpru in western Burma’s Arakan State have protested at the offices of administration and municipality for the area, demanding a stop to the capitation fees (poll taxes) being collected by a the winning bidder for the quay at a common quayside in the town on Thursday.

A participant in the protest said the owner of the quay, locally known as Japanma Quay, has stepped up the capitation tolls collected from travelers in addition to the tolls being collected from boats and vehicles at the quayside.

Kyauk-pru-Japan-Ma-port Japanma Quay in Kyauk Pru. The picture was taken by Narinjara staff recently.
“It causes great difficulty for the general peoples who have been using the quays for their travel because the quay owner has been forcibly collecting 400 Kyat per head from everyone as a capitation fee for using the quay beyond collecting tolls from the boats and vehicles at the quayside. So we have protested at the authorities’ offices to stop the bidder from collecting the capitation tolls from the peoples”, said the participant.

He said nearly forty peoples including boatmen and bullock-cart drivers, first went to the municipal office that auctioned off the commonly used quays in the town, but it had turned away the protestors without taking responsibility for the matter.

“We first went to the municipal office around 12 pm and demanded the office stop the owner from collecting capitation tolls from the people, but the office did not accept our petition letter and told us that they are not responsible for the matter. So we have continued to the township and district level administration offices to put forward our demands, and so far the administrators have accepted our petitions and promised us that they will look into the matter tomorrow”, he said.

One of the bullock-cart drivers who is working at the quay transporting goods and travellers said they have to pay tolls not only for their carts, but also for the travellers and goods inside their carts as well.

“We are work transporting travelers and storing goods in our carts at the quay, but we have to pay 500 Kyat per cart and if we would fail to pay for each of the travelers and goods that we bring in our cart, we are fined to 5,000 Kyat. It has already happened five times so we have also participated in the protest to stop these kinds of tolls at the quay”, said the cart driver.

According to a source, a local couple known as U Kyaw Tin and Daw Win Tha Pru have taken ownership of the quay after placing a winning bid on the quay. The problem has risen as the quay owners have been hiring local goons to forcibly collect the higher polls demanded.
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