State Counsellor holds video conference with transportation sector officials to discuss COVID-19 matters

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her capacity as Chairperson of the National-Level Central Committee for COVID-19 Prevention, Control and Treatment held a video conference yesterday from the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw, and discussed the matters relating to COVID-19 prevention and control with officials from the public transportation sector.

Those who participated in the video conference were Managing Director of Yangon Bus Service U Aung Nyi Nyi Maw, Commuter Ma Nai Nai and Assistant General Manager of Myanma Railways U Zaw Lwin who is conducting COVID-19 awareness campaigns on Myanma Railways.

After her words of greetings, U Aung Nyi Nyi Maw discussed briefly the plying of public buses in the city, distribution of masks and arrangement of handwashing basins for the commuters, disinfection of buses, giving assistance as needed in the public transportation sector and prevention of high passenger density on the buses.
Ma Nai Nai, a regular commuter, then shared her experiences in using YBS buses, saying that it would be very helpful for commuters if sufficient ferry buses could be operated for private and public employees; she also shared about her experiences as a volunteer in the ‘Clean Yangon’ trash collection campaign.
Next, Assistant General Manager from Myanma Railways U Zaw Lwin discussed the upgrade of trains, operation of air suspension coaches, operation of circular trains and long-distance trains, and the conduct of COVID-19 awareness campaigns on passenger trains, providing hand sanitizers and handwashing basins for passengers, making sure that passengers followed the health directives and instructions, and administrative measures being undertaken to ensure the safety of vendors on trains as well as at the train stations.

The State Counsellor discussed the need to think in terms of short-term and long-term in relation to the provision of assistance to be provided by the Union Government.

In her concluding remarks, she said at the moment there was no one who could estimate when rules and regulations on COVID-19 could be lifted; in some countries, restrictions had to be lifted because the public could not bear the stress; some have said that restrictions should not have been lifted in these circumstances; some have pointed out that from the health point of view, because restrictions had been relaxed where it was unwise to do so, this action had led to more infections instead of assisting in the protection of public health. She said this sort of action could lead to the need to impose more restrictions in the long term.

The State Counsellor added she had considered this point; that the act of imposing restrictions and easing restrictions was being done in the whole country; that this was related to the rules and regulations issued by the Union Government; that the Union Government had to take the lead in issuing rules and regulations; that it was not possible for individuals to decide on matters of easing/relaxation of restrictions; and that all needed to cooperate in this matter.

She added that at this time, transportation was something that needed serious consideration; it was not practical to stay at home all the time without going anywhere; another matter that needed priority attention was the education of children as it was not possible to keep the schools closed all the time; that regarding this matter, she had studied how other countries were solving this problem; regarding transportation, continuous monitoring and assessment was needed; in Myanmar, the use of cars had increased more than trains; in the past for long-distance trips, people used trains more than cars but nowadays people used cars more than trains. She said she believed it would be more beneficial for the country if the rail transport sector could be developed and improved, and that it was best to allocate investments evenly to all areas.

She said that during the COVID-19 period, each individual provided much help to the country by working continuously at their jobs; that they needed to follow safety measures at their workplaces, and that it would not be good to get infected while working; that was why each individual should take good care of themselves, and that taking good care of oneself meant taking good care of the community also; wearing a mask was to protect oneself from being infected, it was more to protect oneself from being infected by others rather than preventing the disease from oneself being transmitted to others. So the wearing of masks is to protect oneself, protect others and the community. She said, in a situation where it was not possible for people to keep apart from each other, it was very important that arrangements were made to encourage more handwashings and wearing masks. For a country to be running smoothly, it was very important for the transportation sector to be running smoothly. Commuters were also very important. She added that she wanted to thank all commuters for using the transportation facilities properly and without endangering themselves; she also wanted to thank all transport sector employees who have kept the system running as well as those in the private sector organizations. She ended her remarks by extending good wishes for the health and happiness of all concerned.