Fighting Blocks Food & Fuel On Loikaw – Hpasoung Road

By Network Media Group
Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Locals fear food and fuel shortages after traffic is still on the Loikaw – Hpasoung road following recent offensive manoeuvres by regime forces in Karenni State.

“No one dares to drive on this road because of clashes along the road,” a 30-year-old man from Hpasoung town, who requested anonymity, told NMG. He said the road was not closed, but there were hidden landmines.

“If a vehicle comes to a stop on an anti-tank mine, it will be blown up and all the occupants will be killed.” Currently, locals are forced to buy basic food and fuel in Thailand and after the cost went up, they can no longer get everything they want, he explained.

While the regime controls the Nan Hpe – Hpruso – Demawso – Ngwe Tawng road, the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force and the Karenni Army control the Loikaw – Hpruso – Bawlakhe road. However, the armed groups have warned civilians not to use it because of the fighting that started last week.

“The Thai authorities have tightened border restrictions and the military is inspecting people at the border checkpoints making it difficult to bring in food and fuel from Thailand. That is why the cost of food and fuel here has gone up so dramatically,” said another local who requested anonymity. He said those who are friends of the regime can easily pass through the border checkpoint and shop in Thailand.

“This is the last bullet and once it is gone, I do not know what will happen to us,” the man said.

Currently, residents of Hpasoung, Bawlakhe and Mawchi rely on supplies from Thailand. They say the cost of rice has doubled to over 120,000 kyats per bag (about $57) and fuel is between 4,000 and 6,000 kyat per litre. An egg sells for 500 kyats. And KBZ Bank charges 3 per cent for money transfers to the areas, the same as other agents.

The regime has imposed martial law in parts of Karenni State, including Bawlakhe Township as part of its revival of the Four-Cuts Policy, and residents fear that they’ll soon face famine.