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Yangon’s biggest flea market moved to Strand Road

YCDC moves the last of the stalls from Shwe Bon Thar Road on 15 November 2017. (PHOTO: Ye Mon/ DVB)

Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) today loaded the last stalls onto trucks on Shwe Bon That Road as the city’s largest flea market was finally relocated less than a kilometre away to join with the Night Market on Strand Road.

Shwe Bon That Road flea market, where vendors rolled out everything from clothes to jewelry on roadside mats, was especially renowned as a place to buy second-hand mobile phones. It was targeted for closure some three months ago in a bid by municipal authorities to reduce traffic congestion in the city centre.

Shwe Bon Thar Road is sandwiched between Bogyoke Aung San Road and Anawrahta Road, two of the busiest streets in the downtown area. Locals say the street market had effectively cut the flow of traffic to a crawl.

An official from YCDC Planning Department told DVB today that more than 300 vendors had been asked to move to spots along the waterfront on Strand Road.

“There should be no problems integrating their stalls into the Night Market,” he said.

Street seller Aung Myint, who has acted as an impromptu spokesperson for the Shwe Bon Thar vendors, said that the street sellers accepted that they must relocate to the Night Market but worried about their income.

“Some vendors believe they will lose income from the move, but I don’t think so,” he said. “Customers will keep coming.”

Local Padeban Township MP Soe Pa Pa Hlaing told DVB that they had requested the vendors to move at least three times due to the traffic jams.

“The vendors were selling their wares in the middle of the street,” she said. “That’s no good. We can see why people complained and asked us to resolve the issue.”

Street vendors will be obliged to pay 300 kyat (US$0.22) per day to cover cleaning and water supply at the Night Market, the YCDC official said, adding that portable toilets had been provided by the council. He told DVB that they had not yet billed the street vendors for electricity, although local shop owners on Strand Road were each charged 7,000 kyat per month for this service.

Rangoon division government announced last year that it would permit the opening of a second Night Market in the city centre, to be located on 52d Street; however it had not yet been launched.

Strand Road Night Market is open every evening from 3pm to 11pm. The vendors from Shwe Bon Thar Road will now be able to hawk their wares along the street every day from 10am to 11pm.

Opened nearly 20 years ago, Shwe Bon Thar Road flea market was the biggest not just in Yangon, but in the entire country. Many locals nicknamed it the “Thieves Market” because of its notoriety for second-hand items, foreign currency, and black market goods.