Bikes smuggled to Myanmar vie for turf
Tamu (Myanmar), Jun 15 : A fight of a different kind is raging between India and China on the streets of Tamu district of neighbouring Myanmar and beyond. Indian bikes and two-wheelers are fighting for space with bikes of Chinese brand.
While the favourites of the Myanmarese vendors and traders still remain China-made bikes, scooters and bikes made in India are slowly making inroads into neighbouring Tamu district, a border trade hub.
The Chinese and the Indian brands were not, however, legally taken to Myanmar. They are being smuggled there while the Myanmarese authorities remain “silent”.
“Earlier, it was only Japanese brands such as Honda and Yamaha that zoomed the streets in Tamu and beyond, but the Japanese brands have been replaced by China-made bikes, including 125cc Kenbo. Now Indian two wheelers and motorcycles are becoming popular in Tamu,” Enaocha Singh, a Moreh resident, told this correspondent.
China-made bikes are gradually replacing the Japanese brands not only in Tamu, but also in upper Myanmar, central Myanmar and cities like Mandalay, sources in Tamu said.
The main mode of transportation — by traders coming from other parts of Tamu district and beyond to Namphalong, a border market place of Myanmar, and Moreh, Manipur’s border town — is motorcycles.
They come carrying their merchandise to Namphalong and Moreh for trading activities since early morning.
India and Myanmar have had border trade since 1995. Gates one and two are opened at 7am and close at 4pm daily.
Sources at Moreh and Tamu said a large number of China-made motorcycles are regularly smuggled into Myanmar across Myanmar’s northern Shan state border with China’s Yunnan province.
While Myanmarese authorities look the other way, authorities on this side of the border (Manipur) are very strict to ensure that not a single China-made motorcycle enters the Indian side.
“There is a great demand for the Chinese motorcycles at Moreh and even in Imphal, but it is impossible to smuggle them in as the authorities would seize the bikes and arrest anyone riding it,” a government official at Moreh said.
The Myanmarese traders were,however, allowed to ride these bikes in Moreh during the border opening hours. These China-made bikes were seen parked in neat rows by the wayside on the road leading to Tamu town and Namphalong.
A Kenbo motorcycle costs about $470 in the black market while a legally-imported licensed motorcycle costs about $800.
Indian motorcycles like Activa, Pleasure, Hero Honda and Access are also smuggled into Myanmar through Moreh.
“If the government allows smuggled Chinese bikes on Manipur roads, the Chinese brands will replace Indian brands in the state. The price of the smuggled Chinese bikes ranges from Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000,” unofficial sources at Tamu said.
The more affluent traders prefer Indian bikes because they are fancier and stronger.