Border protest shuts down Aranyaprathet checkpoint 

Thai security officials ordered the temporary closure of the border checkpoint at Aranyapraythet Saturday after more than 300 Cambodian labour and border traders protested the Thai authorities over tightened checks on their second-hand merchandises wheeled in for sale at the Talad Rong Kluea market.

The protesters were angry at Thai authorities saying  the check was time consuming, thus causing pushcart traffic with their merchandises on board get stuck in a long queue of over a kilometre awaiting their turns for check before being allowed to cross over to the Thai side market  for sale.

Thai border security stepped up checks on merchandises from Cambodia to sell at Talad Rong Kluea market after they seized huge volume of counterfeit brand-name merchandises hidden among cargoes the Cambodian traders declared as second hand clothes on Thursday.

The counterfeit goods were contained in bags loaded in pushcarts wheeled across the border from Poi Pet to Aranyaprathet’s Talad Rong Kluea market.

The protest started in the morning when Cambodian labour blockaded the Thai-Cambodian Friendship Bridge and demanded the release of their colleagues arrested Thursday on charge of smuggling counterfeit brand name goods into Thailand.

The blockade of the bridge stranded several cargo trucks from Thailand to Cambodia, and also trucks from Cambodia.

But talk could not start as both sides could not communicate because they didn’t understand their languages.

The governor of Poi Pet was alerted and came to negotiate.

However the talk failed when the Cambodian labour insisted on the release of their colleagues and also demand the easing of the stricter check on their cargoes by Thai Customs officials.

The Cambodian labour and border traders then blocked the Aranyaprathet checkpoint on the Cambodian side with  more pushcarts.

The blockade forced Thai border authorities to close the checkpoint immediately and ban all entries.

They also told Thai tourists with plan to visit Poi Pet to call off their travels, and Thai gamblers at Poi Pet to return to the Thai border for safety reason.

Many tourist cars and cargo trucks  were also stranded at Poi Pet while Cambodian cars were also stranded on the Thai side.

By night fall, it was not known if the protesters remained on the closed bridge or not, as Thai authorities have shut all entrances, and exits to Cambodia from the border.

However the angry protesters were heard shouting abuses on Thai authorities.

Authorities advised late in the evening that Thai tourists put off their scheduled travels  to Cambodia through Aranyaprathet checkpoint temporarily until the situation returns normal.