Yangon-Mandalay Expressway:

Road rule costs Myanmar billions

Transport and logistics companies are frustrated by the ban on trucks on the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway, arguing that it costs time and money and puts lives at risk. Many leaders in Myanmar’s logistics and freight sectors are calling for the expressway to be opened to trucks – a move they say would improve transport efficiency, reduce freight costs and save lives.

According to frontiermyanmar.net, the Asian Development Bank estimated last year that allowing trucks on the expressway would immediately save 110 million dollars a year – more than 10 percent of total road freight costs. 

With some additional investment in the road, this figure could rise to 200 million, it said in a policy note prepared for the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Over 15 years, the amount saved could be as much as 10.7 billion dollars. Unsurprisingly, opening the highway to trucks was the top recommendation in its policy note.

The underuse of the expressway is particularly striking in Myanmar because the country is so bereft of high-quality transport infrastructure. Allowing trucks on the expressway seems to be a no-brainer.

Because of the ban, much of the country’s truck fleet – which shifts 90 percent of its freight – can be found just dozens of kilometres east of the expressway, on the Yangon-Mandalay Highway. This route is 10 percent longer and passes through large towns as well as countless villages.

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