New bridge to facilitate Myanmar and Thai trade

Vehicles pass around the gate of Myawaddy border trade zone, Myawaddy. Photo – EPA


A new bridge connecting in Myawady in Kayin State and Mae Sot in Thailand was officially opened to heavy vehicles on October 30. The older bridge in the area will be used by cars on the Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced last week.

“Three trucks from Thailand and three from Myanmar crossed the bridge, called the No.2 Friendship Bridge, as a test on its first day of use. This new bridge will help lessen illegal trade and improve the transportation of goods between the two countries,” said U Aung Moe, secretary of the Myanmar Highway Freight Transportation Services Association.

There are currently about 100 drivers in Myanmar who hold border-crossing licences valid for a year in Myanmar, U Aung Moe said. With the bridge now open, trucks from Thailand can now reach Yangon’s Thilawa port and trucks from Myanmar can reach Laem Chabang Port in Bangkok, Thailand.

“In the past, despite having permits for trade in Thailand, we had to drive along restricted routes and were not allowed to cross into Thailand and goods had to be transferred to other trucks at the border. Now we can carry goods into Thailand without having to waste time transferring goods to Thai trucks,” said U Myo Htut Aung, an executive member of the Myanmar Container Trucks Association.

At present, four firms have applied for cross-border licences, said U Myo Htut Aung, adding that the process involves applying for permits for the drivers (who must have red licences authorizing them to drive hired vehicles) and vehicles at the same time.

“Now that the bridge is open, trade will be facilitated, but better transportation links fast and better trade are not the same. It will take a little time to know whether it can boost the trade between the two countries. Imports from Thailand currently exceed Myanmar’s exports across the border. In the mean time, traffic congestion along the trade routes will be solved. The government is trying to put in place online systems to improve processing and record keeping at the border,” said Daw Thin Thin Myat, chair of Myawady Border Trading Association.

Surveys for the new bridge began in May, 2012 and construction started in August 2015.

Trade volumes via the Myawady border crossing for the 2018-19 fiscal year till August reached US$879.23 million (K1.3 trillion).

The bridge opening ceremony was attended by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Thail Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The 270-metre  bridge costing 4 billion baht (K198.48 billion), was built with assistance from Thailand.

The approach roads to the bridge measure 3.6 kilometres in Myanmar and 17.25 km in Thailand.

That bridge is situated on East-West Economic Corridor connecting Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.  – Translated


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