By Swaroopini Nair
Tonpheung, Bokeo Province, Laos, November 13, 2017
The Lao government has recently announced plans to launch a new port checkpoint located along the Mekong River in Thailand, early next year. The port, known as the Ban Mom port, will be situated in Ton Pheung, Bokeo province – 17 km North of Chiang Rai’s Chiang Saen district in Thailand. The development and operation of the port for the next 40 years has been contracted to a Thai firm.
Under the Quadrilateral Agreement on the Commercial Navigation on Upper Mekong‐Lancang River – signed between Lao, China, Thailand and Myanmar – Ban Mom Port will work as a checkpoint for upstream river traffic from Chiang Saen Port in Thailand to China. The port will be equipped with cargo handling equipment, immigration and customs offices, warehouses and servicing cargo vessels. Cargo ships carrying 100 tonnes will be charged 40 dollars and ships larger than that will be charged 50 dollars at the port.
Lao, China, Myanmar and Thailand have set common navigation rules for cargo and trade vessels to abide by as they travel along the Mekong River. There are six common navigation rules that were standardised. These rules are meant to oversee various areas – safe navigation, vessel monitoring process, water level management for cruising, navigation administration, procedures on accident investigation and search and rescue.
In 2018, the China-Thailand free trade agreement will be coming into effect which would further boost regional traffic. The Ban Mom port’s development will allow it to manage the influx of regional traffic and will also help combat the illegal trafficking of goods and contraband items to and from China. Due to the heightened increase in traffic, the port will be increasing security personnel to assist with cargo monitoring, to combat the travel of contraband items.