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Merger of toll gates on the Myawaddy-Kawkareik Asia Highway after appeals

Karen Unified Committee on Arms Groups met for a temporary session to consider the Karen tollbooth managment and fusion of various Karen armies on the Myawaddy-Kawkareik section of the Asian motorway in Karen State. It took place at the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 7 Headquarters from 28 to 29 May.

Karen National Union (KNU) spokesman said to Karen News that in order to make the lives of motorists more comfortable, the gunmen agreed to pool their troops and not have Karen groups with toll stations. An emergency get-together at the Asia Highway toll stations was organised in reaction to recent issues between Karen gunmen.

Altogether 60 persons participated in the conference, among them the deputy president of the KNU, the general commandant of the KNLA, other top executives, representatives of other Karen and observer-organisations. At the end of the rendezvous, three groups - the KNU, the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (Peace Council) (KNU/KNLA (PC)) - reached an agreement that they will have two intermodal toll stations, one in Kawkareik and the other in Thingan Nyi Naung, from the beginning of June.

There are currently estimated to be eight toll stations along the new highway, one operated by the Burmese Army and others operated by KNU, DKBA and KNU/KNLA (PC). With so much moneys being raised along the street, it is the range most negatively criticized by the civilian population, causing the most trouble among the gunmen.

Saw Kyaw Thet, general of the DKBA Klohtoowah Tactical Unit said: A Karen military official of the Karen regime who participated in the rally said that the combination toll barriers were the outcome of discussion and negotiation between the Karen groups. He said there was still no mention of whether the Burmese army doors would join the groups or run them.

Karen News said that a rider who used the street on a regular basis and asked to stay on the street asked that the results of the rally were good for the general and the trades. So far there are still 8 goals - KNU, DKBA, PCs and the Burmese military, and we have to make 1,000 kyat at each goal.

But 1,000 Kyat is not enough at the DKBA door, they are asking for 2,000 Kyat. The Karen Arms Committee completed the new Myawaddy-Kawkareik line on 4 March, which has been underway since November 2012. The Burmese army and Karen gunmen both built tollbooths and raised funds from cars and travellers using the highways.

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