Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge closed by authorities




Authorities have closed the Thailand-Burma Friendship Bridge after the swollen river washed away chunks of the Burmese land downriver to Thai side.
The Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge was ordered closed today by Myawaddy authorities though no official explanation was given. However a Burmese official close to members of the Myawaddy Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) told IMNA, “They closed the bridge, because of these land problems between each other. Some of the land from the Burmese side was washed [down and] brought to the Thai-side. Because of that problem, Burma authority closed the bridge to traders from Thailand for a awhile. We heard that they will open after its resolved.”
As the arrival of rainy season brings more frequent and heavy rains, water runs off the nearby mountains and in to the Moei [Thaung Yin] river. In this case, as the river has grown, it has begun washing soil and debris away from the Burmese riverbank, and down to the Thai side of the riverbank.
At the closure of the bride, low level conflict has erupted between authorities, according to several administrators who have spoke with official in Myawaddy. The problem is apparently over the issue of Burmese soil being washed down and deposited on Thai soil, and the loss of trade revenue at the bridge closure.
“They closed today. But many of authorities have said they will be resolved without [much] conflict to other, which it why [they will] close the bridge just a awhile,” added the official close to the TPDC. “However, many cars from inside, from Moulmein or Hpa-an, [are] still coming.”
Additionally, according to a second administrator close to Myawaddy’s TPDC, boats crossing between illegal trade gates which shroud the bridge have been stopped from crossing the fast moving river. The result has already been a drastic cut in income for traders making the trip between Mae Sot and Myawaddy.
“Trucks with goods on Thai side [trading from Mea Sot to Burma] has to stop at the Thai [side] boat quay,” one trader explained. “Also trucks with goods which will be traded by legal crossings over the Bridge have to stop in front of the bridge too.”
Authorities have yet to explain the reason for the close, leaving residents to guess about the cause of the closure and when the bridge and river crossings might re open.
Three days prior, members of the special police arrived in Myawaddy from Nay Pyi Thaw, to check for and seize illegally sold goods. The crackdown spread fear amongst traders of complete losses of goods brought form Thailand, and resultantly shut down their shops and trade. The result has been a series of days of limited trading and little income, explained one Burmese trader explained.
The Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge was built by Thai Authorities in 1995 and opened in 1997.
When open, explained a member of a trade group from Taught District, the bridge and illegal crossings bring many of goods from Thai side, with a profit to Thai traders of nearly 40 million baht each day. With this closure, he believes the economic losses for Thai traders a will be harsh.
Short URL: http://monnews.org/?p=558

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