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Unofficial checkpoints shuttered along Thai border

Unofficial checkpoints shuttered along Thai border

Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to close down a series of unofficial border checkpoints often used for smuggling between Banteay Meanchey and Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province.

Si Chheang, a border police officer in Malai district, said yesterday that the checkpoints were closed on Monday to the dismay of Cambodian workers whose livelihood depended on selling goods across the border.

“Some workers, who are poor, burst out crying and pleaded with authorities,” Chheang said, adding that Thai officials wanted the passages closed to prevent smuggling as well as undocumented border crossings, illegal logging and other crimes.

Banteay Meachey Provincial Governor Suon Bovor said the closure, while unpopular, will ultimately help Cambodians.

“It helps to increase income, reduce the smuggling of illegal goods and strengthen security along the border,” he said.

Yang Sang Koma, of agriculture NGO CEDAC, said while smuggling should be prevented, the government should help citizens who depended on it for income, saying he wanted ‘‘to see the government create development programs along the border to create more jobs’’.

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