Thailand has asked Myanmar to upgrade a high traffic border checkpoint in Karen State that was closed in July due to flooding. They also requested the border be officially upgraded as a permanent trade crossing.
The request was lodged on August 30 during the first meeting of the Thailand-Myanmar Township Border Committee, according to U Myo Naing, an administrator in Payathonzu, also known as Three Pagodas Pass.
Myanmar sealed off the border after road expansion and construction of a drainage ditch on the Thai side caused water to pour into downtown Payathonzu. After negotiations on July 26, the border was reopened to commuters, but local residents say it’s still partially closed.
U Win Khine, a local resident of Payathonzu, said large items like furniture have not been permitted to pass through the border since it was closed in July. Part of the problem also stems from the poor-quality road.
“The road is in terrible condition [and] we couldn’t get the transportation permit. As it’s an illegal road, there is not much imported from Thailand,” he said.
The border crossing has been limited to unofficial, small trade and daily commuters due to a territorial feud, though locals say goods smuggling through the crossing is rampant.
Thailand proposed upgrading the temporary border crossing to a permanent one in 1999 and again in 2002, but Myanmar did not accept the outstand disagreements about territory.
Last year, in response to a question on whether the government has any plans to official reopen the border checkpoint as a trade depot, Minister of Commerce U Than Myint told Pyithu Hluttaw it will only be opened after the Thai-Myanmar territory has been re-measured.
The Thai delegation to the August 30 meeting addressed the long-standing gripe. But the Myanmar counterparts repeated the need to solve the underlying dispute.
U Myo Naing said the Thai Township Border Committee members discussed a number of other issues during their inaugural meeting, including the sale of vehicles and motorcycles in the border area, drugs, and increasing cooperation.
“They requested bilateral cooperation between the police for drug issues. They asked [Myanmar] not to accept the sale of vehicles and motorcycles since the border checkpoint is not legally opened,” he told Karen News on August 31.
Myanmar requested their Thai counterparts to call off the construction that had led to the July flooding and to take down a restroom built on Myanmar territory.