20th September 2020 –
Only Thai or Myanmar drivers living in Thailand will be allowed to cross the border.
“Trucks and drivers from Thailand will be allowed to enter. If the vehicle and driver are from Tachileik on the Myanmar side, the driver has to switch shifts with a Thai driver before the vehicle is allowed to pass into Thailand. Myanmar residents are not allowed to pass the border,” said Daw Nan Sin, secretary of the Kyaingtong-Tachileik Border Trade Association.
Around 180 trucks and 70 freight cars pass through on a daily basis from Tachileik to Mae Sai.
The Thai authorities said only 168 trucks and one driver per vehicle will now be allowed to cross the No.2 Friendship Bridge on a daily basis. Driver cards will be issued for inspection and all Myanmar trucks will be able to enter only after disinfection. Violators can be punished with a THB100,000 fine or one year prison term.
The restrictions are expected to impact imports at the Tachileik border and cause losses to traders in eastern Shan State. To minimise damages, the Kyaingtong-Tachileik Border Trade Association is now negotiating for more favourable terms for Myanmar traders with the Thai authorities.
“A large range of products from edible oil, cement, fuel, household appliances is imported from Mae Sai and there will be problems for those in construction as the supply of materials will be disrupted when the restrictions take effect,” Daw Nan Sin said.
The closing of the Mae Sai border comes a day after Ruili, the major border crossing between China and Myanmar, was placed under lockdown on September15 after COVID-19 was detected in the city. Consequently, Myanmar drivers have been prohibited to cross the border with their goods.
Ruili is expected to be locked down for a week and travel outside the city is prohibited. Border trading between China and Myanmar via Rulii is now being conducted in Wan Ting on the China side.
With the China customs office now shut, trading at the has mostly come to a halt. If prolonged, traders predict that the disruptions to trade at the China-Myanmar border could lead to considerable losses.
Traders in Muse said the lockdown might get lifted only after the authorities have tested enough people in Ruili to ensure they are clear of the virus.