Thailand Reopens Mekong Ports to Allow Essential Goods From China

Joint patrol vessels with law enforcement personnel from China, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, sail on the Lancang-Mekong River, March 17, 2015. (Xinhua/Chen Haining)

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Thailand has lifted its ban to close four ports at the Mekong River to allow essential goods to be shipped to and from China as Thailand is currently facing the COVID-19 outbreak.

The four ports, including cargo terminals and border crossing, were closed since March 21 to curb the virus outbreak, leaving only two bridges over the Mekong River in Chiang Kong and Mae Sai districts to remain open.

However Chiang Rai Governor Prajon Pratyakul said on Thursday that he had decided to lift the ban as essential goods shipped from China, were necessary to assist those impacted by the pandemic.

“These four ports in Thailand’s northernmost province of Chiang Rai usually handle large cargo volumes exported to and imported from China,” said Prajon, “we simply cannot cut these shipping bloodlines during this tumultuous period.”

However, COVID-19 in China has greatly improved, therefore it is of no problem to resume trading with China, said Prajon.

The governor also said that the temporary closures of the ports have resulted in cargo pile-up at port terminals and shortages of daily necessities, not only in Thailand but also in Myanmar’s border towns that rely on imports from Thailand.

The operations of the ports are however limited to only three days a week, the governor said. Travelers are still not allowed port entry.