Asia World collects road tax on under construction Hpakant jade mining road

The Burma-Asia World Company has begun to collect road tax on the Mogaung-Hpakant jade mining road in Burma's northern Kachin state soon after it started rebuilding the road in November, 2008, said local sources.

The company started to reconstruct the stone paved road from 8 Miles, Mogaung Township to the Hpakant (Phakant) jade mining city. The distance between the two is over 48 miles, said local travellers.

Local travellers to Hpakant jade mining area told KNG, that company workers have been stopping all cars travelling along the road and collecting road tax depending on the size of the cars.  They collect 9,000 Kyat (US $8) for Toyota 4-wheeled cars, 6,000 Kyat (US $5) for Chinese made and small-sized tractor called Htaw-la-gyi and 5,000 Kyat (US $4) on the basis of wheels of large-sized truck (a ten-wheeled truck will have to pay 50,000 Kyat (US $44) to the company), respectively.

Travellers, passengers cars' owners and goods trucks' owners operating on the Myitkyina-Mogaung-Hpakant route are unhappy with the company collecting tax even before the completion of the road reconstruction work, said local sources.

According to local travellers, the road tax is being collected from December, 2008 by the company. There are over a hundred cars which ply on the road every day.

Given the contract between Asia World Company and the Burmese ruling junta, the road reconstruction is to be completed within three years, said sources close to the Asia World Company.

In the past, Mogaung-Hpakant road was temporarily rebuilt many times by several jade mining companies in Hpakant who wanted to get jade mining permission from the ruling junta, said local sources.

The Asia World Company was founded in 1992 by one of Burma's popular drug lords, Lo Hsing Han who is closely associated with Burma's ruling junta.

In 1997, the Asia World Company rebuilt the Mandalay-Muse highway, the main Burma-China border trade route.

On the other hand, Lo Hsing Han's Asia World Company signed an agreement with ruling junta for the construction of seven hydropower projects in Mali and N'Mai Rivers in Kachin state in 2006. The company is now conducting inspection in Myitsone, the Mali and N'Mai Rivers' confluence and Chibwe in N'Mai River.