Friendship Bridge now ready for reopening

Friendship Bridge now ready for reopening

Tak: The Friendship Bridge linking Thailand and Myanmar reopens tomorrow, much to the delight of eager traders who have waited three years for the resumption of border trade stalled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Provincial authorities held a meeting yesterday to prepare for the reopening of the bridge which crosses the Moei River at Ban Rim Moei in Mae Sot district opposite Myawaddy in Myanmar.

Surapol Wongsukpisal, Tak deputy governor, led the meeting, also attended by Somchai Traithipchartsakul, Mae Sot district chief, and heads of the security and administrative agencies.

Discussed at the meeting were priority issues, including how far into Thai territory Myanmar people will be allowed to cross. It was decided to permit them access as far as the Pawor shrine about 17km from the border.

The meeting was told the shrine is popular with many Myanmar nationals who frequently visit the site and nearby tourist attractions.

Mr Somchai has invited related agencies and local business leaders to attend the reopening of the bridge, which is expected to spur cross-border trade.

The commercial link was suspended during the three years of the pandemic. Although the two countries agreed to partially reopen the bridge to serve freight transport in the middle of last year, trade volume was nowhere near pre-Covid levels as the ban on travel remained in place.

At the same time, Myanmar authorities indicated they were not ready to return to business as usual amid growing calls from traders for the full resumption of commercial exchanges by both sides.

Cross-border trade and tourism are expected to bounce back strongly. Trade volume at the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border pass accounted for about 100 billion baht before Covid struck.

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