No trade has been taking place between Paletwa in Chin State and Kyauktaw in Rakhine State due to the continued suspension of ferry service along the waterways connecting the towns.
Locals in Paletwa say they are facing shortages of rice, cooking oil, salt and gasoline as a result of the lack of access to the Kyauktaw market.
“Even we have money, we cannot buy things. The route is not blocked but people are afraid to travel in the area,” a local worker with a volunteer group told Khonumthung News. “Rice has yet to arrive in Paletwa. Rice sellers in the market have closed their shops.”
The local said that there are at least 10 such shops selling rice in Paletwa, but all have shut their doors because of a lack of rice to sell.
The Burma Army and the Arakan Army have been engaging in intensifying clashes between Paletwa and Kyauktaw since early February, leading to the suspension of travel services between the locations.
A ferryboat owner said that Burmese soldiers opened fire when they tried to stop boat between Paletwa and Kyauktaw and interrogated all of the passengers on the boat.
“The Burma Army’s military column investigated all of the boats in the lower part of Ting Ma village. That’s why passengers don’t want to travel under these conditions,” he told Khonumthung News, explaining why they stopped operating in the area. “They tried to shoot at boats. That’s why we are afraid to travel on the river.”
Because of the fighting, the local authorities in Paletwa have imposed a curfew on the town. They have also shut off internet access in Paletwa and eight townships in Rakhine State since February 3.
Twenty-nine organizations—as well as the Canadian embassy in Yangon—have spoken out against the internet blackout, calling for access to be immediately reinstated. Canada also asked for travel restrictions to be lifted and humanitarian assistance to provided to all who need it.