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Yangon’s boom falls short across river – waiting to bridge the gap

The Thaiger

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Yangon’s boom falls short across river – waiting to bridge the gap | The Thaiger
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“An enormous industrial zone spanning the area south and west of the river, largely funded by money from Korea and China, is under consideration.”

On her scruffy, downtrodden bank of the river, teashop-owner Khin works just a few hundred metres over the muddy water from Myanmar’s capital Yangon, and dreams of the riches promised by a new bridge linking her to the commercial heart.

Spanning the Yangon River, the project is due to be completed in 2022, easing the commute for thousands crossing the waters by boat from rural, underdeveloped Dala.

“The quicker, the better,” 58 year old Khin Than Myint tells AFP of the construction of the $168 million bridge, from her shop in Dala township.

“Currently the sick sometimes cannot even reach hospital before it is too late. But with the bridge people will be able just to walk to Yangon.”

Residents of Dala have witnessed the changes over the river as foreign investors poured billions of dollars into Yangon.

Five-star hotels and gleaming shopping malls, brimming with luxury brands, now punctuate the skyline, competing for space with Shwedagon Pagoda’s golden spire. In Dala, goats wander between rice paddies and residents negotiate potholed roads on fume-belching motorbikes and tuk-tuks – forbidden in downtown Yangon. A regular ferry service and a fleet of small wooden boats have long been the only link between the two worlds.

Future riches?

After nearly half a century of military rule, Myanmar started opening up in 2011.

Over the next seven years, Yangon attracted almost half of the country’s foreign investment, some $25.8 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

While living standards are improving for many, a third of people languish in poverty, infrastructure remains patchy and much of the country is affected by conflict.

Still Yangon’s boom has brought jobs for many of Dala’s residents too – including the boatmen manoeuvring vessels through the river’s busy freight traffic. Aung Myo Win has spent 14 years shuttling people across the river and is torn about the new bridge. The 45 year old knows it will likely leave him – and dozens of others – jobless, but he also sees the bigger picture.

“The bridge is for the people. We must sacrifice ourselves for the sake of development.”

Yangon’s southern districts were historically swampland, the reason the city grew northwards away from the river, says David Ney, urban specialist at The Asia Foundation.

“Dala was kind of put on the backburner,” he says.

But this now looks set to change.

An enormous industrial zone spanning the area south and west of the river, largely funded by money from Korea and China, is under consideration. But some are wary about the realities of rapid development. 68 year old Yangon taxi driver Chit Nyunt says on the north bank the rich have got richer, leaving the poor behind.

“Rising costs of rent and food mean families can barely cover their costs,” he says.

In Dala, however, Khin is pinning her hopes on the bridge.

“I want to build a nice house and I’ll open a bigger restaurant and some shops — just like in Yangon.”

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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Crime

3 Chinese casino workers arrested with 8 million baht after illegal crossing from Myanmar

Maya Taylor

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3 Chinese casino workers arrested with 8 million baht after illegal crossing from Myanmar | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Residents

Officers from the Thai police and military have arrested 3 Chinese nationals after they crossed illegally into Thailand from the Burmese town of Myawaddy. Thai Residents reports that the 2 women and 1 man were workers at a casino in Myanmar and were arrested in possession of 8 million baht. Officers detained them as they were getting into 2 cars allegedly arranged for them by 2 Thai men .

The arrests happened in the district of Mae Sot, in the northern Thai province of Tak, where border patrols have been increased in light of a surge in Covid-19 cases in Myanmar. The Chinese nationals crossed the Moei River, which separates Myawaddy and Mae Sot, with the assistance of a Burmese national. It’s understood they were attempting to flee Myanmar due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

SOURCE: Thai Residents

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Governor halts movement of goods between Tak and Myanmar amid Covid fears

Maya Taylor

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Governor halts movement of goods between Tak and Myanmar amid Covid fears | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.12go.asia

The governor of the north-western province of Tak has put a temporary stop on the transport of goods between the province and Myanmar, just across the border. The suspension comes amid increasing anxiety about the number of Covid-19 cases in the neighbouring country and is expected to remain in force until at least October 25.

Governor Pongrat Piromrat called a halt to the movement of goods after 3 Burmese truck drivers tested positive for the virus, followed by 3 Burmese workers, all members of the same family, who were living in the Mae Sot district of Tak. Last week, residents of Mae Sot gathered at a checkpoint by the Friendship Bridge, which spans the Moei River, and connects Mae Sot with the Burmese city of Myawaddy. They were protesting what they see as lax control of drivers crossing from Myanmar into the Kingdom.

Thai PBS World reports that the area where the latest infections have been discovered is now under 24 hour watch by village guards, with everyone entering and leaving having to undergo health screening, including temperature checks.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Prachuap Khiri Khan blocks borders with barbed wire after Covid-19 reports in Myanmar

Caitlin Ashworth

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Prachuap Khiri Khan blocks borders with barbed wire after Covid-19 reports in Myanmar | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

With the recent report of 41 new Covid-19 cases in a neighbouring Myanmar town, Prachuap Khiri Khan officials are making sure the Thai-Myanmar natural border is blocked with barbed wire fences. The province’s governor Panlop Singhaseni says all districts have been told to keep borders secure.

In Prachuap Khiri Khan, 40 natural borders have been closed off to prevent people from entering Thailand illegally and potentially spreading the virus. Thai truck drivers can still cross the border to transport basic necessities. The province also set up more than 20 Covid-19 screening checkpoints. 400 locals in the area have been tested, but there have been no positive cases in the province.

Myanmar was hit with a surge of cases last month and the virus continues to spread. The majority of cases first spread in the Rakhine state on the country’s western coast and then spread across the country, popping up in towns bordering Thailand. The country has reported 18,781 Covid-19 cases with 5,548 recoveries and 444 deaths, according to Worldometer.

Recently, Myanmar’s Myeik province, which borders 8 districts in Prachuap Kiri Khan, reported 41 new Covid-19 cases, adding up to 66 cases in the area. 39 of the new cases are monks. A Covid-19 screening point was set up in Myeik requiring travellers entering the province to show a passport and certificate of examination.

Thailand border officers in various districts have been tightening patrol over the past month, monitoring the area and arresting a number of migrants caught allegedly crossing the border. Some have placed barbed wire to prevent people from crossing into Thailand through natural passageways. Some volunteers have even started to patrol the area.

Prachuap Khiri Khan blocks borders with barbed wire after Covid-19 reports in Myanmar | News by The Thaiger

Total Covid-19 cases in Myanmar as of October 5, according to Worldometer.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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