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Trishaw drivers pedalled the streets of Prome [Pyay], central Burma, on Thursday to protest a recent municipal council regulation requiring them to install side-rails on the passenger seats of their vehicles.
Thirty trishaw drivers were accompanied by some 50 supporters in the demonstration, which kicked into gear at 8:30 in the morning under the statute of Gen Aung San in the town centre. The ride continued on to the municipal office where trishaw licenses are issued as drivers chanted their objections to the new regulation.
“We are protesting today to demand a more streamlined procedure for gaining trishaw licenses,” driver Win Hlaing told a crowd of bystanders.
“As car owners, you all know how simple it is to extend your vehicle license at the Directorate of Road Administration – all you just need is to bring your license and the car to the license department. However it is not like that at the municipal council where they keep making unnecessary demands, just as they did under the Than Shwe military regime. This has to stop.”
As the trishaw drivers made their point, the crowd’s demands turned to the desire for an investigation into a 2012 case of forced displacement. In that instance, according to Ponn Ya of civil society organisation Karuna Latmyar (Hands of Compassion), the municipal council rounded up homeless families in Prome, including 30 children, and dumped them outside of town.
“The town’s authorities rounded up the homeless children and their parents including a blind old man,” Ponn Ya said. They were then taken on a garbage truck to a woodland called Nyaungchedauk, across the river from Prome. There they were left.”
The trishaw protest ended at around 11am. No arrests were reported.