West P&I offers update on Yangon Port, Myanmar

West P&I’s local correspondent in Myanmar, Protection and Indemnity Services Asia Ltd, has provided an update on Yangon Port.

Yangon Port is strategically located on the Yangon River, about 17nm inland from Elephant Point at the Gulf of Martaban. Recent expansion at Yangon Port has extended the port area west and south. This expansion has resulted in a management and ownership structure involving governmental bodies and commercial enterprises, which collaborate in the management and operation of ports and terminals.

Yangon Port is one of Myanmar’s nine coastal ports, but facilitates more than 90% of the country’s imports and exports. There are 27 berths within Yangon Inner Harbour, with a combined quay length of 4,640 meters, and 19 berths in Thilawa Outer Harbour, with a total quay length of 3,591 meters.

Ships entering Yangon Port encounter draft limitations imposed by two bars within the channel. The Outer Bar, located near Elephant Point, creates a barrier at the river mouth, while the Inner Bar, positioned near Monkey Point, presents challenges for access to the port. Vessel’s navigating these waters, particularly those over 200 gt, are required to engage a local pilotage service.

Before reaching the pilot station, typically situated around 20nm south of Elephant Point, the Master of an incoming vessel must provide an ETA, draught, speed, length, gt, and flag. The port recommends that the Master remains on the bridge until berthing or attachment to the mooring buoys has been completed. When a vessel is required to proceed to anchor, the preferred anchorage locations are near the Dagon and Lanthaya light ships, especially during the monsoon season, when strong tides prevail.

Stevedoring services at Yangon consist of some wharves run privately and some run by the government. Skilled labour is primarily employed on private docks. Agents coordinate ship entries and exits while customs officials inspect vessels before or after entry. Essential documentation, such as the ship’s registry, crew and passenger lists, cargo manifests, customs declarations, and health declarations, are required for clearance procedures.

After boarding and examination by customs officers, one or two might remain on board after examination and fulfilment of formalities. The officers have to be offered “accommodations and food” on the ship.

A “customs rummaging party” might board the vessel at any moment during its stay to search it. A full statement of the ship’s supplies and crew personal effects, including currencies, must be kept on hand for Customs inspection.

Shore passes for crew are provided by the Immigration Department, with assistance from the MPA. Shore leave is permitted from 08:00 hrs until 22:00 hrs. Only North Korean crew members are currently barred from going ashore. Three copies of the crew list must be prepared for the Immigration Department for vessel arrival and exit. In addition, five sets of Identity Cards with photographs must be prepared prior to the arrival of the vessel for each individual on board. Without these, no shore leave will be granted.

Crew changes can require advance notice. Signing On typically takes three working days and Signing Off takes at least seven working days. Owners are asked to notify the arrangement for crew change prior to the vessel’s berthing so that it can be completed before the vessel sails.

The correspondent said that, while instances of robbery were infrequent, it was important to maintain strong security measures. These included floodlights, deck watchmen, and continuous security patrols.

It was noted that Myanmar’s maritime legal framework was “evolving”, and that it was focusing on implementing fundamental maritime regulations and admiralty law. The country has yet to ratify fully several maritime conventions, but it is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention), which provides a mechanism for resolving disputes.