Burmese Taxi, 2006

Some recent reporting on new taxis plying the streets of Rangoon only highlights the manifold problems of land transportation in Burma. Even on the capital’s plushest streets, the basic requirements of efficient, economical and sensible public or private transport are rarely met. It does, however, sound like these new taxis are a step in the right direction.

Next, will we hear announcements that the government will be regularly maintaining roads for its citizens? In every state of the Union?

Potholed, poorly planned and lacking, by any measure, the characteristics of a developed system, parlous road transport is a handbrake on the country’s potential. Even for a very poor country, Burma’s roads add insult to the already egregious injuries suffered by ordinary people as they struggle day to day.

With other abuses justifiably grabbing the headlines, it can be easy to overlook a simple truth: transport is central to the current government’s failings.