"Our strategy is to be ready to provide full service to all destinations, including Ocean transport, customs clearance, vehicle inspection and processing before delivery into the country, when the demand is there."
Myanmar has traditionally had a very limited automobile market, says Trond Tonjum, Head of South East Asia for WWL: “The majority of cars sold in Myanmar today are second-hand vehicles imported from Japan. They arrive in the ports, and are then ‘jockey driven’ by individual drivers from the ports to wherever they are sold—or owners or dealers come to the port themselves to pick up the vehicles.”
Now that new cars are beginning to enter the country, a professional transport solution was clearly needed. The new joint venture (with Myanmar-based Carrier King Logistics will put into place not only new car-carrying trucks to safely bring the vehicles to inland dealerships, but will traina team of professional drivers to handle them.
Mana-Ek Nuanjan is the general manager of the new joint venture. “I know this business very well,” says the veteran of some 15 years in the Thai auto distribution market, and originally a truck driver himself. “We have recruited drivers in Myanmar who are now undergoing training in Thailand on how to operate and load the trailers. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s going very well,” he says, adding that it’s a service that customers are already showing demand for.“They’re really pressing us to get going, but we want to first make sure that we have drivers who know completely what they are doing, and who are committed to providing flawless quality.”
Driver development, Tonjum says, involves a full month of training in Thailand. “Mana-Ek, who trains our drivers in loading and unloading, has been the manager of a fleet of our trucks in Thailand. We’ve given the new staff from Myanmar the chance to just keep doing it over and over until they have our best practices fully ingrained. There are many steps to the process of loading a trailer when you’re thinking about quality, covering areas like load distribution, lashing, securing and protection; we have to make sure that we don’t damage the vehicles, and that they arrive at the Yangon dealers in the same condition as we brought them over. We want to provide perfect handovers!”
This will not only better ensure the quality of the vehicles arriving at the dealership—not a small concern, with road conditions often still poor in the country—but it removes the burden on dealers to handle the transport themselves. “We can offer them cargo insurance from the port to the destination as well,” Tonjum says.
The process will start gradually, with three multi-car transports entering into services in the summer of 2014. Currently WWL only provides vehicle transhipment and inland services from Yangon port into the city, but the future is promising —and WWL can provide all the logistics services that the market might need.
“Dealers today are only located in Yangon,” Tonjum says, “but e can already see this changing, as they open in other locations throughout the country. Our strategy is to be ready to provide full service to all destinations, including Ocean transport, customs clearance, vehicle inspection and processing before delivery into the country, when the demand is there.” The possibilities are exciting: Thailand, whose border is only 350 kilometres from Yangon, has become a major production and distribution hub for international automakers, while others have already expressed interest in Myanmar itself as a potential production centre.
“We really see the potential here, and we are ready to serve the Myanmar market as it continues to develop,” Tonjum says