Conflict over trucks operating between Thailand and Myanmar

Thai and Myanmar officials are in conflict over the operation of cargo trucks travelling between Thailand’s Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province and the Thachilek township in Myanmar.

The conflict stems from an order from Mae Sai district chief officer, Prasong La-on, forbidding trucks and vans from Thachilek from entering inner areas of the Thai district, to pick up goods from various warehouses to be transported back to Myanmar, as part of the lockdown measures to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 into Thailand.

More than 200 vans from Thachilek travel into the inner areas of Mae Sai district each day to pick up goods, as well as trucks which are allowed into the district to take fuel and construction materials back to Myanmar, on the condition that the drivers spend only seven hours on the Thai soil and do not stay overnight.

The Thachilek district chief officer, Saan Myarsaw, has reportedly complained about the measure, claiming that the ban will increase operating costs for Myanmar merchants.

Talks were held Monday between the two sides, to discuss the new measures imposed by the Mae Sai district chief officer, but the meeting failed to reach an agreement as the Thai side refused to compromise.

In retaliation, the Thachilek district chief has imposed a similar measure, by banning Thai trucks from going into the township and forcing them to offload their goods at a yard in front of the border checkpoint.

The issue is expected to be referred to provincial-level authorities for consideration.

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