Thai-Myanmar border trade resumes through Mae Sot
published : 25 Mar 2015 at 13:09
writer: Assawin Pinitwong
Myanmar soldiers reopened ports on the Moei River opposite Tak province to trade on Tuesday night after Thai authorities allowed oil exports to resume through pipelines to Myawaddy.
Workers resume fuel exports to Myanmar through pipelines in Mae Sot Tuesday night. (Photo by Assawin Pinitwong)
Myanmar soldiers had closed 23 ports on the river bank on Tuesday morning. This followed Thai officials' recent decision to ban fuel deliveries through pipelines. They said the road tankers must take their cargoes across the Thai-Myanmar friendship bridge from Mae Sot.
The bridge cannot support big, fully laden fuel trucks, which instead usually offload their oil to the pipelines. Thai officials said their export licences required the fuel be delivered across the river by road, and banned pipeline deliveries.
The strict controls on the Thai side stalled about 40 oil tankers in Mae Sot, resulting in a fuel shortage in Myawaddy for nearly two weeks.
Myanmar's local Border Guard Force (BGF), which closed Myawaddy's ports, reportedly was upset it could not impose its usual informal tax on oil imports.
Tak governor Somchai Hathayatanti said after meeting local authorities on Wednesday that the BGF, led by Maj Gen Maung Chit Htoo, had closed all river 23 ports on the Myawaddy side to imports from Mae Sot via Mae Ramat to Tha Song Yang district.
The problem was resolved when oil exports via the pipelines to Myawaddy were again permitted on Tuesday night.
Thai officials set a condition that operators must improve oil pipeline safety to meet proper standards within 30 days, he said.
Tak governor Somchai Hathayatanti, centre, speaks to reporters Wednesday morning, announcing the resumption of border trade through Mae Sot. (Photo by Assawin Pinitwong)