Fighting may affect the development of Mrauk-U

Fighting may affect the development of Mrauk-U
Mrauk-U, an ancient city in northern Rakhine State. Photo: Mizzima

Mrauk-U, March 29 – As soon as one hears the words Rakhine State, he will certainly and instantly see in his mind the conflicts, religious and racial issues.

In this Rakhine State, Mruak-U is the tourist attraction site and subject matter of archeology. And also it is the hope for development in Rakhine State.

Mrauk-U, flourished with travellers from domestic and international, is situated at the east bank of Laymyo River and the city produces fruits and vegetables so that economy of this city is in good shape.

Mruak-U Township has 7 wards, 101 village-tracts with nearly 300 villages and it is on the Yangon-Sittway highway. And also since it has waterway for transport of goods, Mrauk-U has good flow of goods.

Rakhine Stae legislative assembly legislator from Mrauk-U constituency Tun Thar Sein said to Mizzima on March 20 when we met him in Mruak-U, “Mrauk-U is quite convenient for livelihood but people are facing difficulties now in doing business after the war broke out. The fighting in this area caused the streets deserted. Most of the shops lowered their shutters. Now Mrauk-U is like a cemetery with deserted streets and seeing no people in the city.”

The fighting spread also to Mrauk-U, the crown jewel of Rakhine State, after the war broke out between Tatmadaw (government defence services) and Arakan Army (AA) in late December last year.

In the wake of frequent and interrupted fighting in villages of Mrauk-U, the people in the city stayed in their homes and the streets looked deserted and also the bullets hit even the ancient pagodas and stupas in the city.

Restaurant owner Thein Tun said, “In the past we lived happily in our city. Now we have to live with limited resources in living and eating. The current situation is as you see now.”

Another restaurant owner in Mruak-U, Wai Mar Aung, said, “The business is so bad now. We open our restaurant from morn to night but there are little customers in the morning and also no customers at all in the evening. We have to close our shop at about 6-7 o’clock in the evening. This shop is our sole income source. Our business is much affected because of the fighting as we have no customers now.”

These underdeveloped areas because of poor infrastructure and connectivity even before the fighting broke out have been much worsened even more in development.

Even in this peak tourism season, the hotels and guesthouses in Mrauk-U have to be closed and the responsible officials from hospitality industry in Mrauk-U said that they could know whether these hotels and guesthouses could be reopened or not only after end of March.

Sittway based Rakhine State Directorate of Hotel and Tourism said that over 2,400 foreign tourists and over 5,200 domestic tourists visited Mrauk-U in 2018.

However Mrauk-U, emerging city in development, has been much affected currently after the war broke out in the area and not only the economy of the city but also the education, health and social sectors have been much impacted by the war and local people are living with fear, uncertainty and anxiety in their daily lives.

Thein Thein Aye, an IDP, said on her hope, “How can we cope with our shelter and food? Some lactating mothers have to leave their infants at home. So the fighting needs to be ceased.”

Currently besides the Bengali refugee issues, Rakhine State has to shoulder the burden of local war refugees in addition.