The weeks-long traffic jam of cargo ships at the Myanmar’sbiggest port threatens to scare potential investors away and choke off nascent economic growth, says a report in Reuters.
The bottleneck at the dilapidated port was caused by a spike in demand for goods as the opening up of the economy accelerates following a historic election win by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in November.
“Because of the general growth of the economy we are packed. The ships have nowhere to go,” said Ma Cherry Trivedi, managing director of Ayuroma International, an advisor to Myanmar Industrial
Port (MIP), where congestion has been worst.
Its main port has changed little since the end of British colonial rule nearly 70 years ago – emblematic of ramshackle infrastructure that could hold back the foreign investment Suu Kyi needs to live up to sky-high expectations and remake a country impoverished by decades of junta rule.
The number of ships docking in Yangon has doubled over the past decade and the number of containers has jumped fourfold, data shows, clogging up inadequate storage space, overwhelming sclerotic logistics systems and delaying deliveries.
Industry sources said the holdup cost major shipping lines millions of dollars a week.
Myanmar's presidential office announced emergency measures in mid-May to tackle the congestion, including 24-hour port operation and customs clearance, and ordered daily reports from the ministers of commerce and transport.
Some of the biggest shipping companies, such as Denmark
's Maersk Line Ltd, dispatched their own specialists to help manage the situation.
"There's no easy way out of this, but billions of dollars in the country's development hinge on how aggressive the government is in solving the problem," said Tatsuya "Ricky" Ueki, managing director at shipping company MOL Myanmar.