By Tin Maung Lwin
The quiet roads after the 9 October armed attacks are becoming crammed full of cars, motorcycles, tri-shaws and pedestrians again. These days, shops that used to operate half of the day now run their business until the evening. Likewise, government and private banks in town are resuming their daily routine, so the banks are crowded with people who will withdraw and remit money. These were scenes found in Maungtaw in the last week of December.
Preparation for the security of the area
After the armed attacks, forces comprising government troops and border guards were confronted with terrorists while launching area clearance operations. After a series of skirmishes, the attacks became fewer and fewer. Now the combined forces continue their area clearance operations for the peace, stability and security of the area.
It is learnt that border security guards are arresting those suspected of involvement in the armed attacks, mapping villages in order to inhibit travel, checking populations listed in family registration certificates and taking photos for protection from illegal immigration, under the aegis of border guard control forces.
“Data collection is routinely done annually. That is the work of checking as to whether there are those who emigrate and immigrate in the area. Immigration department’s personnel prevent illegal immigration by mapping, registration of buildings, collecting population data and taking family photos. For doing so, facts and figures such as deaths, births, households and population will be known in detail,” said Police Brigadier General Thura
Agriculture and Business
The main business in the Maungtaw region is agriculture. Starting from the middle of November, monsoon paddies could be harvested due to the cessation of armed attacks. In some areas, there were some delays for these attacks, and the harvest was being done until now. In some areas, summer crops are being planted in harvested fields, as usual.
As shops in the town of Maungtaw were reopened, some errand workers who were unemployed for over two months are now returning to work without worries. Yet, some people in the town and nearby villages were still worried for their routines of fishing, working in prawn breeding ponds and fetching firewood, it is learnt.
“We found it difficult for our villagers to earn a living, to some extent. That is because we dare not go out for work because of worries,” said Daw Khin Hla, a resident of Yemyettaung village.
Due to the situations of border area’s security, routine work of border trade in Maungtaw was suspended since November 3, the State suffered a great loss of income from the border trade, as did dealers of border trade, it is learnt.
U Khin Kyaw Myint, in charge of the camp, department of Maungtaw Border Trade said, “On November 1 and 2 after the armed attack border trade was managed to operate. But starting from November 3, trade came to a close because of the border situation. During the period of two opening days, trade worth US$50,000 was done against its November target $400,000.”
The December target was $700,000 but closure from December 1 to December 23 did not make the target attainable.
Resumption of Trade
On December 24, Maungtaw Border Trade resumed operation, and some export commodities started to be exported to Bangladesh. Those who were dealing in trade revived their businesses. It is learnt that prawns and dried fish are being exported, but there are still no imports into Myanmar.
“In consultation with responsible persons, we managed to start the border trade as of December 24. On December 24, prawns and dried fish worth US$80,000 was exported, and those commodities worth US$100,000-$200,000 in total in two days,” a responsible official of the Maungtaw border trade zone said.
One-week border pass visas are not issued yet, and thus that there are some inconvenience for dealers and traders, it is learnt.
Education and Health
Over 300 State Primary, Middle & High Schools were reopened. That teachers assigned to these schools were sent to their respective posts, it is learnt. The Government of the State granted staff’s salaries for October, November and December to enjoy two times of their normal pay. It is a kind of tonic for staff, but it was not allowed for temporary staff, so they have found it difficult, it was learnt.
Concerning health care, medical doctors and nurses from hospitals and clinic centres are providing medical treatment regardless of race and religion.
Aid Being Supported:
The main challenge for villages in northern and southern part of Maungtaw township is the problem of eking out a living because of their worries about the situation of the area’s
security. In most of the villages, national ethnics were found as a sparsely populated group. Most of assistance supported by donors from local and international organizations were pots, pans, soap, rice, cooking oil and clothes. Ethnics have been living here and cannot depart their beloved land. I will not forget the words of one resident who told me: “At the time of the outbreak of armed attacks, some abandoned their locations in fear, but we could not depart, so we continue to live here in fear.”