New bus service to Mae Sot‏ from Samut Sakhon

A new public bus route was launched on Wednesday to help migrant workers returning home to Myanmar travel from Samut Sakhon to Mae Sot on the border.

  • Published: 10/04/2013 at 12:41 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

A new public bus service begins running between Samut Sakhon and Mae Sot district, Tak. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

Sawit Kaewvan, secretary general of the State Enterprises Workers Relations Confederation of Thailand (SERC), said the 54-seat bus travels directly between Mahachai in Samut Sakhon's Muang district and Mae Sot district in Tak.

It was a cheap, convenient alternative for the many migrant workers employed in factories in Samut Sakhon.

On average, about 200 people a day catch a bus from Bangkok's Mor Chit station bound for Mae Sot. This number swells during Songkran and other long holidays, said Mr Sawit.

Only one bus a day was planned for the Mahachai-Mae Sot service at first, to test its viability.

The service would be of benefit not only to migrants in Samut Sakhon but also neighbouring provinces such as Petchaburi, Ratchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan, said Mr Sawit.

If migrants in Ranong were interested in a direct route to Myanmar, then maybe it could be worked out with the Transport Company later on, he added.

Wuthichart Kalayanamitra, president of Transport Co, said the new Mahachai-Mae Sot route was the result of collaboration between the SERC and Transport Co. If it proved propular it would be continued.

Transport Co was also negotiating with Myanmar to open two cross-border routes, between Mae Sot-Myawaddy and Chiang Rai-Keng Tung in Myanmar, said Mr Wuttichart.

He hoped agreement could be reached on one of the two routes this year.

He said the bus on the new Mahachai route was relatively new and should provide both safe passage, comfort and convenience for travellers.

Maung Maung, 30, a worker at a Charoen Pokphand affiliate, arrived to by buy five tickets, for himself and family members, for Wednesday 8pm departure.

He said the big bus was not only cheaper but safer and more convenient.

The other options were a shuttle bus service from Mahachai to Mae Sot, which cost about 600 baht a person. The new public bus costs 500 baht. The VIP bus from Mor Chit to Mae Sot costs 666 baht and normal buses 333 baht and 428 baht.

"It is awkward for us if we have a lot of stuff carry back home. The shuttle bus operators do not want us unless we rent the whole vehicle.

"And if we travel to Mor Chit, the ticket maybe be cheaper but it is time-consuming and very tiring, especially with children," said Maung Maung, who has been working in Thailand for five years and returned home twice.

At the bus launch on Wednesday morning included Andy Hall, who is facing two lawsuits due to his research on the plight of migrants at a canned fruit juice producer. (Photo by Achara Ashayagachat)

Sein Htay, adviser to the Migrant Workers' Rights Network (MWRN), said the 54-seat public bus was a welcome alternative for migrants. The shuttle buses had been involved in some accidents.

With the public bus launched, competition should also result in better service, said Mr Sein Htay.

Importantly, migrants could now travel with some dignity as they would face only one or two checkpoints along the way, and officials would get on a bus to check their documents. When traveling on the shuttle bus or by pickup truck they had to get off the vehicle for checks at five or six stops, or even more, said Mr Sein Htay.

"Some are also harassed and humiliated, as if migrants are mere objects for discrimination even of they carry proper documents," he said.

The new bus service is the result of collaboration between the SERC, MWRN and the Transport Company, which is a state enterprise.

Migrant rights activist Andy Hall, who is facing two lawsuits due to his research on the plight of workers at a canned fruit juice producer in Prachuap Khiri Khan, also took part in the launch of the bus service on Wednesday morning.

Mr Hall said on his Twitter page that he he'd had a "productive" meeting with British Ambassador to Thailand Mark Kent.

He said the ambassador made clear the embassy's support and commitment to his personal safety and for his many years of work on behalf of migrants in Thailand.

 

A customer shows the ticket for the new bus route. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

 

About the author

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Writer: Achara Ashayagachat
Position: Senior Reporter

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