The border at Three Pagodas Pass remains closed despite residents asking Zaw Min, the Chief Minister of Karen state, to open it during his trip to the town last week.
Kayin State Chief Minister U Zaw Min sprinkles water during a foundation-laying ceremony at the Hpa-an Industrial Zone. (Pic: Juliet Shwe Gaung)
Border businessmen described to Minister Zaw Min the difficulty the closure causes for people needing to travel to Thailand for medical treatment.
The Minister responded by asking the businessmen how trucks delivering furniture and antimony can cross the border, but infirm people cannot.
Zaw Min did not say when the border will open, and reported on finding corruption between Burmese border authorities and the border businessmen for goods crossing illegally.
The Burmese government closed the border in 2007 after a Karen armed group, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, abducted two Thai border guard forces and tension intensified in the area.
The border closure hit hard for Three Pagodas Pass residents who receive medical treatment in Thailand. Currently, those seeking treatment have to liaise with a volunteer health worker team called “Mitta Ye” that is based in Three Pagodas Pass. The team negotiates with Thai border authorities and then transports the patient to the treatment facility.
Railway Minister and chief Naypyidaw peace negotiator Aung Min recently announced that the World War II era “Death Railway” will be reconstructed.
The project would be a boon for Three Pagodas Pass residents, as the railway links their town to Rangoon and Bangkok. The Railway Minister also proposed opening a special industry zone in Three Pagodas Pass for local development.