Myanmar Greener than the U.S.?

February 26, 2007
The insular dictatorship in Myanmar, formerly Burma, has a plan to turn the country’s few vehicles into green machines. And it’s making sure the conversion happens—no matter how long it takes to refuel.

An economic basket case, Myanmar, where the heat and humidity are nearly as oppressive as the country’s ruling military junta, is in the midst of converting its fleets of taxis and buses from gasoline to compressed natural gas. Myanmar has no oil reserves but plenty of natural gas, so the idea seems to be a good one.

Only it’s not, according to a CNN report. The problem, the news network says, is that the country only has 20 natural-gas stations in the capital of Yangon, a city of 5 million people. The pumps they have installed take about 30 minutes to fill up vehicles, too. Frequent electricity blackouts shut down the pumps on a daily basis.

Myanmar’s green revolution has turned out to be a major time-waster, as it can take up to 10 hours to refill the nearly 11,000 taxis and buses that have converted to the fuel. Turning to motorbikes or the ubiquitous tuk-tuks of Thailand is verboten, too – the junta outlawed them in 2001. And new cars have essentially been banned by the dictatorship.

Formerly one of Southeast Asia’s wealthiest nations when it was known as Burma, Myanmar is used to wrenching change on the roads. In 1970, dictator Ne Win heeded his astrologer and switched the country from driving on the left to driving on the right side of the road.

Land of the all-night gas line –

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