Low levels in the Mekong River impacting cargo ships

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Chiang Rai – A reduction in water releases from Chinese dams and local drought conditions have resulted in the water level of the Mekong River in Chiang Rai dropping, and impeding ship transport.

Water levels in the Mekong River at Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai since February have been stable at about 1.9 meters, limiting the movements of large cargo ships, especially 150 to 300 ton container ships from China. Boats are having to proceed with caution between Myanmar and Laos as rocks are now protruding in many areas.

Vice President of the Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce, Pakaimas Wiera, explained that the Mong Pa Laew area along the Myanmar-Lao border, 53 kilometers north of Chiang Saen, is the most difficult area to pass through during the dry season due to it being only 12 meters wide.

The situation is expected to improve however as the Jinghong Dam in Yunnan province of China is increasing its release to as much as 1,200 cubic meters of water per second. The river level has yet to impact tourist boats.