Hundreds of people are stranded at the border after the Military Council has reportedly stopped issuing new border passes to travel from Kachin State to China’s Yunnan Province unless they pay through the nose to brokers to obtain travel documents.
The department that used to issue the red books has been closed, said a man who requested anonymity. “People have to pay 150,000 ($71) to 500,000 kyat ($240) for the new border pass book through a broker. I also heard that the Kachin State Minister of Security and Border Affairs has ordered background checks for all applicants, but I don’t know any more details.”
At the end of last year, the official cost of a red book was between 15,000 and 20,000 kyat.
About 500 people who want to work in China are stranded in Kanpaiti, staying in hotels, religious buildings, warehouses or with relatives. “Some people have come from far away and it’s really bad if the border office remains closed. There are some Rakhine people here and they’re struggling to buy food, pay for a hotel room and other expenses,” the man said.
KNG couldn’t reach an immigration official at the Kanpaiti border crossing for comment on the situation.
Authorities have stopped issuing new red books in Kanpaiti three times already this year and people have had to pay bribes to intermediaries to get them. However, border officers continue to accept the old red book if it’s still valid.