Construction will begin in August on a second bridge linking Mae Sot and Myawaddy, the major trading point between the two countries, according to sources close to Thai authorities in Tak Province.
The bridge, to be financed by Thailand, will link Yaypu in Myawaddy Township and Mae Sot.
“Trucks will use this bridge, and they won’t have to through Myawaddy to reach the trade zone,” a Thai official told Mizzima.
He added that the current Friendship Bridge is weak and only pedestrians will be allowed to cross on it.
On June 29, Burmese delegates led by Deputy Director Win Tint of the Burmese People’s Construction Department under the Ministry of Construction and officials from Thailand’s Department of Roads and Bridges met to discuss to Friendship Bridge No. 2.
The existing Friendship Bridge was built in 1997. In 2005, the bridge became weak due to water erosion. Many traders now use motorboats to transport goods between Mae Sot and Myawaddy.
In July 2010, Burmese authorities closed the Friendship Bridge and the small ferry ports. The closures have severely affected Burmese traders importing motor vehicles, clothes, machinery and food from Thailand.
Before the bridge was closed, the value of export goods from Thailand to Burma through Myawaddy-Mae Sot was 3 billion baht per month; after it was closed, the value was 1.2 billion per month, said an official in charge from the Mae Sot-based Thai customs office. The closures also affected many businesses and guesthouses in Myawaddy.
Other routes to conduct border trade between Thailand and Burma are the Mae Sai – Tachilek route and the Ranong-Kawthaung route.