The ministry of Rail transportation is responsible for road and rail transport, while the Ministry of Transport is responsible for Maritime transport and civil aviation. The ministry of Construction has set axle weight limits based on ASEAN standards. “With only 6 km of road per 100 km2 of land area, Myanmar’s road networks are very limited compared with most of Asia (World Bank, World Development Indicators). Coupled with the lowest motor vehicle penetration in Southeast Asia (7 vehicles per 1,000 people), this leads to high transport costs and long travel times. As a result, trucking costs for agricultural products are 3–5 times higher than in other Southeast Asian countries”.
In Myanmar, the trucking industry is organized in so-called “gates”. Gates exists in each major city and each gate specializes on one trunk route, e.g. Yangon-Mandalay. Every gate consists of a pool of operators. Membership in the gates is usually not obligatory. Newer and larger operators do generally not participate in the gate system. The gate manager has also the task of consolidating loads. The consolidated cargo is transshipped at a truck park adjacent to the office area. Full truck loads are collected directly at the shipper’s (e.g. factory) premises and do not go through the gate area.
Source: ADB (publisher) Myanmar unlocking the potential, Aug 2014,, Date accessed 21 Nov 2014.
Commercial transportation services are readily available in Myanmar. The majority of the transporters are found in Yangon, Mandalay, Sittwe, Lashio, Muse and Myawaddy towns. The logistics market is still undeveloped and medium-sized transporters are operating mostly on the primary corridors. Transporters for secondary and tertiary (rural) transport must be sourced locally. Most commercial freight is carried by road because transit times over waterways and railways are unreliable and take more time and airfreight is very expensive.
Although only 38.9% of the total road network is paved (2012 data, ADB Aug 2014) they are in reasonable good condition for general use by trucks and cars. Most of the roads are narrow 1 to 2 lane roads, 24 feet wide, which can slow down traffic when trucks must pass each other, especially at narrow bridges.
The age of the Myanmar trucking fleet varies from new trucks (from the PRC) to old-timers (30+ years). On long-haul routes newer 3 axle (21 MT) and 4-5 axle (34-46 MT) Chinese trucks as well as 7-15 year old, 2-axle, Japanese trucks are dominant (16 MT). Some trucks are left-hand drive but most are right-hand drive. Provision of sea, air or other transport services within the country are restricted to Myanmar’s own transport service companies: Foreign carriers do not have cabotage rights.
Freight rates in Myanmar vary greatly, depending on terrain, competition, truck size and season. Factors that influence freight rates are for example:
- The Yangon-Mandalay road leads through flat terrain and has much competition of transporters, while Yangon-Muse has higher rates because there are fewer transporters available and the route leads through mountainous terrain.
- Mountainous routes can only be operated by smaller trucks, which have higher operating costs and therefor have higher rates.
- Freight rates may go up during Myanmar New Year (April) and rice harvest season (May-July) when there are fewer trucks available and Monsoon season (June-August) when road access is more difficult and can be obstructed.
For information and capacity details of Myanmar transporters, please see the following link: