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Huge Truck Backlog At Chinese Border Due To Covid Screening

Source: Vientiane Times

Hundreds of trucks loaded with goods are stranded at the Boten-Mohan crossing on the Laos-China border, with strict Covid screening procedures causing long delays.

Between 400-450 trucks arrive at Boten each day, heading for China. But officials are able to process only 200 trucks and authorise them to cross the border each day, the committee in charge of the checkpoint on the Lao side told President Thongloun Sisoulith on Monday during his working visit to Luang Namtha province.

The committee said Chinese authorities have imposed strict screening measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. These include disinfecting all vehicles, which is time consuming and slows their passage.

Every day, about 200 vehicles cross the border into China while a similar number enter Laos from China.
Slowing things further, the border is temporarily closed if a truck driver tests positive for Covid.

Several border crossings between Laos and China have been closed since the pandemic hit, with the Boten-Mohan crossing now the only point of entry and exit for transport vehicles travelling between the two countries. This has caused unending bottlenecks as trucks pile up at the border each day.

The huge number of stranded trucks means that parking areas have become severely congested and trucks have to park along the road for several kilometres, which is an annoyance for local communities and everyone living alongside the road.

In addition, the entrance and exit gates at the border crossing are narrow, further hindering the movement of vehicles.

In light of these issues, the checkpoint committee asked President Thongloun to push authorities in charge to resolve the problem.

The committee advised extending National Road 13 North from the Boten checkpoint to the Chinese border and opening additional gates so that more trucks could cross the border.

The committee also advised that businesses be encouraged to use the Laos-China Railway to transport goods, and that other border crossings between Laos and China be opened.

The government recently gave the green light to provincial authorities to work with their counterparts in neighbouring countries towards reopening traditional and local border crossings in addition to international ones, to facilitate the transport of goods.