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Rangoon Division police say they are implementing various security measures to ensure the safety of all revellers during the Thingyan water festival, the traditional Burmese New Year celebrations that will be held from 13 to 16 April.
CCTV cameras have been installed at pavilions while explosives teams will conduct inspections in case of bombs, following an incident in 2010 when festivities in Rangoon were rocked by a series of bomb blasts that killed 10 and injured 178.
And in efforts to curb offences common during the festive period, police said they intend to introduce breathalysers and open special courthouses to convict those caught drunk-driving, street-fighting, thieving and using drugs.
Police Lt-Col Myint Aye, the deputy commander of Eastern Rangoon District Police Force, said explosives teams will be deployed ahead of and during Thingyan to inspect pavilions three times a day to prevent acts of terror. He said it is now mandatory for pavilions to employ security personnel – 15 staff at large pavilions and 10 at medium or small sized venues.
“Rangoon Division Police are deploying EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] teams to inspect for bombs at pavilions ahead of Thingyan and three times a day during the water festival,” he said, adding that all pavilion managers are to submit their security footage to the nearest supervisory office by 8pm during the New Year festival.
The police chief said inspectors will also search for weapons to curb street brawls, and said those found possessing a weapon will be punished.
Gen Tin Win, Rangoon Division’s Minister of Security and Border Affairs, said special courthouses will be opened in townships so that authorities can take action immediately against criminals and unruly revellers.
“As Thingyan is a long public holiday, we are looking to open special courthouses during the festival to take immediate action on those who commit crimes and offences,” he said.