A Thai construction company began working on a second Maesot-Myawaddy Friendship Bridge project on the Thai side of the border in early June.
Local residents on the Thai side of the Moei River that separates Burma from Thailand said large earth moving machinery began leveling the ground while surveyors measured land and concrete workers started on the bridge supports.
A contractor said that the new construction would be a suspension bridge that crossed over the Moei River and would connect Yae Pu, Section (5) of Myawaddy, Karen State to Ban Wang Takhian, Section (7) of Mae Sot district in Thailand.
A contractor working on the bridge told Karen News: “The project has already started on the Thai side and the foundations will be laid at the beginning of July. It is planned to invite the Myanmar president [U Thein Sein] to the opening. This bridge will provide an opportunity for Thailand and Myanmar to transport goods from Asia to Western countries.”
The contractor said that Thailand’s Prime Minister would attend the foundation laying ceremony that will take place next month and negotiations are in process to have U Thein Sein attend.
Thailand is responsible for the construction and will also bear the cost of building the new suspension bridge. The new bridge will have 12 supporting towers on both sides of the river. The location of the new bridge is 5km north of the current Friendship Bridge.
A businessman, Nai Suchai told Karen News: “When this new bridge is completed, it will improve trade between Thailand and Myanmar. At present goods are being transported in small trucks so there are delays.”
Goods have to be transported in small trucks because big trucks have not been allowed to cross the bridge since 25 July 2006, due to safety concerns.
The current Mae Sot-Myawaddy friendship was built by Thailand at a cost of 79.2 millions baht and opened on 15 October 1997.
The Mae Sot to Myawaddy border crossing is the main trade route between Thailand and Burma and according to Thailand’s Chamber of Commerce, the monthly trade between the two countries through the crossing is worth over 3 billion baht.