Eel traders dealing with security issues

Myanmar’s eel traders continue to send shipments to China despite ongoing safety issues due to clashes between the Tatmadaw and armed ethnic groups in northern Shan State, especially around Kutkai township.

Kutkai is located along a major route to China used by eel traders.

Last month, the trade was halted for about 15 days after the Northern Alliance of four armed ethnic groups launched coordinated attacks on military and civilian installations in Mandalay Region and Shan State on August 15.

Since then, sporadic clashes have continued occurring in Shan State.

Before the latest fighting broke out, the biggest challenge faced by locals in the business had been traffic congestion during the fruit-trading season and China’s domination of the market.

“This year trade we are facing the security issues, but we could say we have been lucky as none of the drivers of our vehicles have gotten into trouble,” said U Taing Kyaw, a businessman involved in the trade.

He added that before the clashes in August, trucks transporting eel shipments had also occasionally been hijacked for ransom, with the perpetrators asking for eel’s vehicles were abducted and asked for the cash-eels goods for K10 million for the return of the shipment and another K500,000 for the vehicle.

“In August, all of us suffered big losses due to the fighting. One truck can carry eels worth K30 million. In the monsoon season about eight trucks a day carry eels to the Muse and Chin Shwe Haw border trading areas. You can roughly calculate the losses due to the trade being halted 15 days,” U Taing Kyaw told The Myanmar Times.

Prices have now risen to US$3000 per tonne due to the disruptions.

Source: Myanmar Times

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