1. Map Review 2. Comments 3. Quotes from Global Witness
Alternative spelling: Pra Palai
Light Blue Pin: 14o 24' 05" N . 104o 27' 43" E
The distance between the end of R2236 and Chong Pra Pha Lai is about 6km.
Red Line: Highways overlaid from Smartmap Thailand Blue Line: R2236 supplemented to reach the army camp Yellow Line: Narrow, steep downhill dirt path (end unknown) Red Ellipse: Approximate position of the Phra Palai Pass (overlaid from Smartmap Thailand)
Series 1501 suggests an easily accessible route to Phra Palai Pass, mostly cutting through plains. It is natural to assume that, historically, this easy route was used for log transport through this pass. Series 1501 doesn't show any road along this route. Perhaps, they dragged logs to the river and floated them down.
The economic prospect of R2236 is not apparent. It climbs up a mountain to the army camp (highest point in the vicinity), then turns into a narrow, steep downhill dirt path. The dirt path probably reaches the stratigically important Phra Palai Pass, but inconvenient for log transport unless they widen and flatten the path.
The report has omitted Phra Palai checkpoint which lies to the east of Chongsa-Ngam. Global Witness investigations revealed the presence of a large road heading due south to a small Thai base, approximately 6 km from the border. This road is approximately the size of a three lane highway, and could easily accommodate log trucks.
In December 1996 and January 1997 the road to the Thai/Cambodia border at Prapalai was being graded by heavy equipment, creating a three lane laterite road of excellent quality.
The Prapalai checkpoint: This checkpoint is located roughly 6km from a small Thai Military base, located at 14o24'05"N 104o27'43"E.
The checkpoint crosses into the eastern territory held by the remaining hardline KR, centred around Anlong Veng. The US State Department disputes that this checkpoint is able to handle log traffic.34 However, evidence points in the other direction:
Prapalai has historically been used to export logs from Cambodia to Thailand.
The Thai Interior Ministry faxed a document to Thai Customs offices in early December 1996, which stated that three Thai companies: BLP, Chantaburi Romphoroow and SRR had received permits to export logs across the Prapalai checkpoint.
The Thai Government opened the Prapalai checkpoint, along with other Thai/Cambodian border checkpoints in September 1996 for log exports for a period of up to two years.
The access road leading to the Thai base at the above location was being graded in December 1996 and in January 1997. This road is now equivalent in size to a modern three-lane highway.
Having visited Thai timber company access roads in Trat and Chantaburi, it seems unlikely that this pass was not useable during the dry season.
It seems likely that the only reason logs were not exported across Prapalai and Chongsa-ngam checkpoints, was because of the US FY97 Foreign Operations Act.