A NEW bridge for heavy commercial vehicles connecting Myanmar and Thailand look set to boost trade links between the two countries.
The "No 2 Friendship Bridge" that connects Myawady in Kayin State and Mae Sot in Thailand was opened on Oct 30 with hopes to better facilitate trade activities between the two nations according to The Myanmar Times.
In an announcement by the Transportation and Communication ministry about the opening, it also told the first "Friendship Bridge" in the vicinity will continue to be used by regular vehicles.
The 270-metre bridge, with an approach road measuring 3.6km on the Myanmar side and 17.5km on the Thai side, costed nearly 200 billion kyat (RM545 million).
To mark the launch of the new bridge, three trucks from each side of the border were driven across in a simple event attended by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The Myanmar Highway Freight Transportation Services Association secretary U Aung Moe said the new bridge will help lessen illegal trade and improve the transportation of goods between the two countries.
With the bridge now open, trucks from Thailand can now reach Yangon’s Thilawa port and trucks from Myanmar can reach Laem Chabang Port in Bangkok, Thailand. The distance between the two ports stretches about 1,000km.
"There are currently about 100 drivers in Myanmar who hold border-crossing licences valid for a year in Myanmar," U Aung Moe said.
Myanmar Container Trucks Association executive member U Myo Htut Aung said the new bridge will effectively hasten the transportation of goods compared to before.
“In the past, despite having permits for trade in Thailand, we had to drive along restricted routes and were not allowed to cross into Thailand and goods had to be transferred to other trucks at the border.
"Now we can carry goods into Thailand without having to waste time transferring goods to Thai trucks,” he said.
Trade volumes via the Myawady border crossing for the 2018-19 fiscal year up until August stood at about 1.3 trillion kyat (RM3.5 billion).
The bridge is situated on East-West Economic Corridor connecting Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.