The regime has continued an embargo on rice supplies to Hpakant, which has now been in place for over 20 days. Locals told KNG that more than 70 trucks carrying over 20,000 bags of rice are waiting at the Nam Yar checkpoint in the township to go to the town of the same name.
“Some rice traders have been trying to get the soldiers to let them pass, but have been denied,” one merchant told KNG. While some are still trying to convince the authorities to let them deliver their cargo, other drivers have already given up and returned from the checkpoint, he said
A man from Hpakant told KNG that the price of rice in the town has risen from $40 a bag to $60 in the town, forcing some people to cook rice soup to top up their rations. If the situation remains like this, residents fear they will soon starve.
Fuel trucks are allowed to pass if they pay $140 to the soldiers manning the checkpoint in Kachin State.
Critics say the regime has reintroduced its “Four Cuts” policy, used during the previous dictatorship in Karen and Shan states to weaken armed groups fighting the government and reduce civilian support for the rebels.
Since the coup last year, fighting has broken out in Kachin and northern Shan states with the Kachin Independence Army, which is supported by the People’s Defence Force.