Locals Irked over Nighttime Closure of Myitkyina-Waingmaw Bridge

Balaminhtin, Irrawaddy River bridge which connects Myitkyina and Waingmaw in Kachin State, Northern Burma

Residents of Waingmaw want to know why they can’t cross the bridge to the Kachin State capital at night.

The lower house MP for Kachin State’s Waingmaw Township said his constituents want to know why the Bala Min Htin Bridge on the Irrawaddy River is closed at night.

People who use the bridge, which links Waingmaw and the Kachin State capital Myitkyina, can cross it only during the day, and then only after going through multiple security checkpoints.

Waingmaw MP Lagang Ze Jung raised the issue of the bridge’s apparently excessive security measures on Friday during the second round of the 13th session of Burma’s lower house of parliament.

In a question addressed to Kyaw Lin, the deputy construction minister, Lagang Ze Jung asked whether it would be possible to “withdraw unnecessary checkpoints on the bridge and allow unrestricted, 24-hour crossing.”

Kyaw Lin responded that the measure was needed for reasons related to regional security. He said that the bridge is only open from 5 am to 9 pm because of the risk of an improvised explosive device (IED) attack. This was also why both the army and the police have tightened security on the bridge, he added.

Furthermore, he said, the authorities shut down the bridge at night as a way to prevent illegal trade and to keep out foreigners.

“I asked this question during the current session of parliament because my constituents wanted me to. Waingmaw and Myitkyina are not that far apart—they are only separated by the bridge—and people want to be able to travel 24 hours a day without restriction,” Lagang Ze Jung told KNG.

“What I want to say is, please keep the bridge open 24 hours. The authorities can check travelers who cross the bridge after 11 pm and then just allow them to go across,” he said.

He also said there was no need for more than one checkpoint on the bridge and urged the authorities to remove any unnecessary obstacles to the free movement of people using the bridge.

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