MANDALAY—Myanmar’s Ministry of Construction said on Friday that its bridge department is rushing to build a double-lane Bailey bridge in Shane State’s Naung Cho Township to replace the Goke Twin Bridge that was destroyed by rebel attacks earlier that day.
The bridge connected Hsipaw and Nuang Cho townships and formed a portion of the Mandalay-Lashio-Muse Highway, an important section of the national highway system and part of an international trade route, connecting Myanmar to the border trade hub of Muse; it’s destruction has halted the flow of goods from border trading.
The ministry on Friday said materials are already on the way and that a 210-foot Bailey bridge should be completed within 5 days.
Damage to the bridge was inspected by the ministry’s permanent secretary, the deputy directors of the road and bridge department, and engineers and ministers from Shan State.
Goke Twin Bridge was destroyed by a landmine during a series of attacks launched by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and allies that claimed at least 15 lives and injured at least three in Mandalay Region and Shan State on Thursday morning.
“It is quite disturbing for the flow of commodities. Trucks carrying fruit have been blocked and traders are worried the fruits won’t make it to Mandalay [before rotting],” said U Sai Myint Bo, president of Muse Traders Association.
Moves from China to restrict certain agricultural products and to crack down on illegal border trading, however, had for months already slowed or stalled border trade in Muse, so the impact has been more limited than it might otherwise have been.
“Only around 20 or 30 trucks with commodities are going to and from Mandalay and Muse now, so the road block’s impact isn’t great,” U Sai Myint Bo said. “But it has disappointed passengers and tourists, and those depending on commodities at their final destinations. We hope the [new] bridge will be completed quickly.”
The slowdowns have affected traders of rice, maize and cattle that sell to China and importers of fertilizer and household goods, but because fish are out of season and Chinese agricultural restrictions have banned fruit exporters—two of Myanmar’s primary exports to China—the impact has been limited.
“We only import from China, frankly. Currently, trucks loaded with fertilizer and some household goods are stranded in Muse, waiting for the road to reopen,” said Ko Chan Thar Oo, a rice and sugar trader in Muse.
“Hopefully the Bailey bridge is built as soon as possible and is durable enough for heavy trucks so goods are no longer delayed,” he said.
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