Bahraini truckers losing out to Saudis
Manama, February 26, 2009
Bahraini truckers are reporting a sharp fall in profits because they are being allegedly 'undercut' by their Saudi counterparts, it was claimed.
They are angry that Bahraini businessmen are preferring to transport goods out of Bahrain by using empty trucks returning through the King Fahad Causeway after unloading goods here.
'Truckers from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, who come to Bahrain loaded with goods, often went home empty earlier,' said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) board member and customs committee co-chairman Abdulhakim Al Shammari.
'Now, they are taking goods on their way back, resulting in Bahraini truckers reporting loss in business.'
He said the issue could become a difficult one to tackle unless steps are taken immediately to redress truckers' grievances.
Al Shammari said though it was not illegal for trucks from other countries to carry goods from Bahrain, it could become a social issue with locals' profits falling sharply.
'A lot of dissent is happening already and we have been flooded with complaints,' he said.
Al Shammari said though there was no evidence that the goods were being transported at a cheap rate, which was one of the allegations.
'The message we want to convey to Bahraini businessmen is that they should use the locals' services for long-term benefits to their own businesses,' he said.
'The outsiders are not Bahrainis and will go wherever their businesses take them. They will also go wherever they make more profits. The locals are here to stay and will always be here for the businessmen. They should not be ignored.'
Meanwhile, Al Shammari said that the number of empty trucks from Bahrain waiting to cross over into Saudi Arabia had been also been reduced considerably.
'We have had a series of meetings with the King Fahad Causeway authorities, after which only about 50 trucks daily have to wait overnight to cross over compared to 200 in the past,' he said.
'This has been a positive development as far as the trucks' movement is concerned.'
Al Shammari said the situation would improve even more if the Saudi customs authorities open their offices to assist truckers till after the Maghrib prayers.
'Now is the time to do this because the traffic is not very heavy.
'Once it increases in a few months, the implementation of these measures could become more difficult,' he said.-TradeArabia News Service