The Burmese regime's special force sent from headquarters command in Naypyidaw to Arakan State in western Burma has been issuing permits to export timber and cattle to Bangladesh at a cost of one million kyat each since the first of this month.
An Arakanese cross-border trader said that each permit being issued with the signature of the special force commander, Brigadier General Myo Than, is valid for one consignment of timber or cattle to be exported to Bangladesh by sea. He added that most traders are not following the authorities' permit system.
"The cost of the permit is very high and we have to apply for it for every shipment of our exports. There may be profit for those who can export in a large vessel, but nothing would be left for the small traders like us if we were to follow that permit system," said the trader.
He also said that shipments of exports without the special force's authorization have been seized by Nasaka forces deployed at the mouth of the Naff River.
Nasaka forces from Alethankyaw Nasaka Area No. 7 in Maungdaw on the western Burma border are currently deployed with three engine boats at the mouth of the Naff River to catch Burmese smuggling boats that enter the mouth of the river, which is the only gateway to Teknaf and Shahpori land ports on the southern Bangladesh border.
According to border sources, Nasaka forces have already seized three timber and cattle smuggling boats in the last few weeks, reportedly in Bangladesh waters near Shahpori Island in the river mouth.
Due to Nasaka's harsh enforcement, Burmese smuggling boats with timber and cattle are currently seeking escorts from the Bangladesh coast guard to come into the Naff River from the Bangladesh side.
A Bangladeshi trader said, "We have to request our coast guard to safeguard the Burmese timber and cattle boats coming to our ports because Nasaka is even intruding into our Bangladesh territory."
The trader added that they have to pay 5,000 taka to the coast guard each time they are needed to escort Burmese boats.
According to the Arakanese trader, Burmese traders must brave the risks of smuggling to Bangladesh across the sea because domestic trading is tightly restricted and all business ventures are being monopolized by the military authorities in Arakan State.
The regime's special force has based its offices in the capital Sittwe, Maungdaw, Taungup, and Gwa Towns in Arakan State, with the authority to confiscate private land and property, and to impose taxes on local businesses in the state.
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