The Mekong River has been drying up so fast that cargo vessels often have to take a detour to avoid crashing into a sandbank. Local merchants are worried the situation will exacerbate when the drought starts in April.
Water level in the Mekong River at Nakornpanom Province is so low that sandbanks can be clearly seen. The shallow water has made it difficult for boats to pass through particularly at the Thai-Laotian Market.
Ships and boats are forced to spend twice as much time reaching their destinations to make goods deliveries, as they have to detour around the sandbanks to avoid running aground. As a result, border trade between Thailand and Laos is expected to drop sharply in the near future, thanks to transportation difficulties and increased expenses.
Water level in the Mekong River has begun to dry up earlier than usual this year, the cause of which is the building of dams up the River by China, causing concern among countries downstream; including Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos.
Expecting the Mekong to dry up further, the Nakornpanom provincial governor has already planned to build dykes at the rivers of Kok, Ing, and Kum, which are connected to the Mekong, enabling them to store as much water as possible for use during the dry season.