Authorities in Banteay Meanchey province and their Thai counterparts in Sa Kaeo province are discussing the possibility of reopening the Poipet international border checkpoint to allow people to travel during the upcoming Khmer New Year holiday.
Banteay Meanchey provincial administration spokesman Sek Sokhom told the Post that currently the Poipet checkpoint near Sa Kaeo province has only been reopened for transportation. of goods and for some Cambodians who sell in Thai markets.
He added that because Cambodia and Thailand have a similar New Year tradition, the two sides were considering reopening the international border at the checkpoint – regionally – to allow people living along the border to cross it. and enjoy their vacation.
“Cambodia and Thailand celebrate a similar Sangkran on New Year’s Day, so on that day we will allow people in and out… I met with provincial authorities a few days ago – Banteay provinces Meanchey and Sa Kaeo have agreed to allow entry and exit, but only for border areas. Visitors cannot visit Bangkok, for example,” he said.
He said that before Covid-19, people from the two provinces often crossed the border to enjoy the New Year.
“For example, at the O’Bei Choan border checkpoint, there is a temple built by King Jayavarman VII. Our people visit this temple on Thai land during New Year – and Thai people also come to visit temples in Banteay Meanchey province,” he said.
Sokhom added that although the governments of the two countries have yet to officially announce the reopening of the border, restrictions on vendors have been eased and they are no longer required to self-quarantine.
“Previously, Cambodians or Thais who traded across borders had to self-isolate, but now a vaccination card is enough. They are still restricted and not allowed to travel beyond the border provinces,” he said.
He added that Banteay Meanchey province officially allowed workers to enter through three checkpoints – O’Bei Choan, Boeng Trakuon and Malai border checkpoints.
Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ngor Meng Chruon said Cambodia had opened its borders but was waiting for the Thais to do the same.
“The Thai side has yet to announce a specific formal policy that the borders will be open,” he said.
Now that the government has allowed the celebration of the New Year, migrant workers are returning in greater numbers, he added.
He said that on average, between 150 and 250 workers go home every day. As the Khmer New Year approaches, this number increases – up to 400 people enter the province every day.