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Shallow Mekong River Hinders Shipping in Golden Triangle

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Dock workers waiting to unload Chinese boats in Chiang Saen
Dock workers waiting to unload Chinese boats in Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai



CHIANG RAI – Receding water levels of the Mekong River have obstructed maritime transportation, particularly cargo ships traveling from China to Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai.

The Mekong River in front of the Chiang Saen district office were considered to be very low, having fallen two meters below the average depth of 11 meters. The receding waters have exposed sand dunes at several points in the river, affecting the navigation of all ship types.

More than 30 large Chinese cargo ships were forced to dock until conditions improve.

Meanwhile, the Ruak River along the Golden Triangle at Ban Sop Ruak in Wiang district has receded to a depth of eight meters. Passenger vessels have resorted to extending 100-meter planks out to piers for travelers to come aboard.

President of the Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce Kedsuda Sangkachorn said the current drought coupled with China reducing the amount of water flowing out of its dams to 800-1,000 cubic meters per second has exacerbated the situation in the Mekong River.

As a result, Chinese cargo ships have had to reduce their vessel sizes from 400 tons to 200-250 tons.

By Jettana Pantana and Benjamin Rujopakarn

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