Officials in Mongla’s Special Region-4 sent more than 550 migrant workers who had returned from China to the Shan State capital of Taunggyi on Tuesday.
The returnees are mostly ethnic Rakhine workers who had been working in China but left after jobs became scarce during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were quarantined in the Nam Pang area for two weeks before being allowed to continue their journeys home.
Local drivers in nearby Mong Yawng said that 554 people arrived there at 9:00 a.m. from Mongla and 23 vehicles had been arranged to pick them up and bring them onward. Locals prepared lunch boxes for them.
Sai Ti Kaew, one of the drivers, said his car was sprayed with disinfectant and put in the sun for one day before he was allowed to pick up the returnees.
“The respective [government] department asked us for help. We won’t stop anywhere. We will drive straight to Taunggyi,” he told SHAN.
Government staff are responsible for continuing the returned workers’ transfers to their home states and regions.
“They came from Mongla to Kengtung. Then they will be transferred to Taunggyi from Kengtung. We have prepared cars for their travel,” Sai Hom Noi, a member of the COVID-19 control committee in Shan State, said.
He added that 227 returnees had come to Kengtung from Mongla on April 28, 566 on May 1, and 368 on May 3.
Shan State’s planning and finance minister Soe Nyunt Lwin posted on Facebook that these returnees would next be sent to Mandalay. He added that locals in Kengtung would donate drinking water, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soaps, and washcloths to them.
Nearly 500 more people are expected to return from Mongla on May 6, and 178 people from Laos on May 8.
There are 2,220 people staying at quarantine centers in Mongla Special Region-4, who will return through Shan State once their quarantine period is complete. There are also more than 20,000 people waiting to return home in the Kokang self-administered region in northern Shan State.