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Pedlars press Rangoon mayor for space at new market site

Rangoon (Mizzima) – Pedlars in the former Burmese capital made their demands for market space abundantly clear to Mayor Aung Thein Lin yesterday, shouting as he arrived to open the new site for Rangoon’s largest fresh market and prostrating themselves before his car as he left. City officials detained around five of the protesters whose pleas were ignored.

The mayor who is also the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) MP-elect for South Okkalapa constituency presided over the opening ceremony of the new site for Thirimingala Market near Padauk Stream in Hlaing Township.

pedlars-dangoonWhen he arrived at around 3:30 p.m., the pedlars chanted loudly: “Arrange market space for us!” The ceremony was cut short and when Aung Thein Lin was about to leave, two female pedlars lay in front of his car, again demanding space and crying out for justice. City workers then arrested them and took them away.

The protesting pedlars said that they had enjoyed temporary market space in the original Thirimingala Market but that the Rangoon City Development Committee had failed to make space for them at the new site. They had sat in the heat all morning to wait for the mayor.

The existing market complex on Strand Road in Kyeemyindaing Township comprised one of Rangoon’s biggest wet wholesale bazaars, with products including meat, vegetables, fish paste and dried fish for sale at some of its 2,200-odd stalls. The market operates 24 hours a day in a high-grade five-storey building.

Construction of the new one-storey building remained incomplete and it had only 2,093 stalls.

Aung Thein Lin, a former brigadier-general, shed his military uniform only a few months before last month’s national elections, the first in two decades, to run for a parliamentary seat for the junta’s USDP. His competitors and other observers said he collected many unchecked votes in advance and otherwise cheated in the polls.

As mayor, he oversees development works in the city. Rangoon residents said that during campaigning ahead of the polls last month, he also used promises of new roads and improved services in a bid to buy their votes. But now those promises have fallen flat as many of the promised roads in the city are only half-finished, and have even been labelled “Aung Thein Lin Roads”.

The market snub is only the authorities’ latest affront to such itinerant traders in small goods. In July, Rangoon City Development Committee on July 2 banned roadside selling in the 33 townships of the former capital of Burma and announced that violators would face detention.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 25 December 2010 18:40 )  

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