Ban Huak to get official checkpoint

PHAYAO: The National Security Council (NSC) yesterday approved a plan to turn the Ban Huak temporary checkpoint in Phayao’s Phu Sang district into an official, permanent border checkpoint between Thailand and Laos.

According to Kongsak Taranisorn, chairman of Phayao’s chamber of commerce, officials were instructed to draft plans to prepare local authorities for the changes soon after the decision was made. He said the plans will be submitted to the cabinet for further approval after the drafts have been completed.

The move is part of a government initiative to boost trade and investment between Phu Sang and Khop district in Sayaboury province, Laos, along the crossing known as Pang Mon.

Authorities and locals in Phayao have been pushing for a permanent Ban Huak border checkpoint since talks with officials from neighbouring Khop district were held last year and previously in 2015.

“The checkpoint’s proposed permanent status will spur a vast commercial improvement for locals,” said Kowit Chaimuang, the chairman of traders in Chiang Kham district, in Phayao.

“The road connecting Sayaboury to Phayao is extremely convenient, so locals are obviously eager to see the checkpoint’s status change,” he said. “We will see locals from nearby areas travel to Phu Sang and Chiang Kham to buy several kinds of goods, which will help commerce along the border to flourish.”

Reports from local authorities say commercial transactions along the border from 2013 to last year amounted to about one billion baht, with Phayao benefitting from upwards of 90% of that figure.

Local authorities also say the proposed checkpoint will be constructed on a six-rai stretch of land near the present checkpoint after an environmental impact assessment study has been completed.

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