Stranded Bahrain truckers camp out
Manama, October 26, 2011
Hundreds of truckers waiting to cross into Saudi Arabia from Bahrain were yesterday camping in open grounds and on roadsides in Janabiya and Hamala after being prevented from going on to King Fahad Causeway.
Drivers said they had been moved off Shaikh Isa bin Salman Highway by police who said they would only be allowed across in batches.
The move is reportedly the result of massive tailbacks of trucks on the causeway, reaching up to the highway that has been a growing problem for more than two months.
The tailbacks, with trucks parked on the hard shoulder of the causeway, have led to several accidents involving motorists and resulted in the death of a 73-year-old American Dennis Delano Brow on Monday whose car crashed into two trucks as he tried to avoid hitting another vehicle.
A traffic policeman manning the crossing leading to Janabiya said officers were co-ordinating with colleagues on the causeway to gradually let trucks go as the highway linking the two countries becomes clear.
'We are trying to control the trucks so they don't park on the roadside. This is dangerous for traffic and could lead to accidents,' the officer added.
The GDN reported yesterday truckers were being forced to queue for up to four days just to enter Saudi from Bahrain, causing massive tailbacks stretching several kilometres.
Business leaders said the delays were causing havoc to trade, hurting companies on both sides of the causeway, while transport bosses have blamed the huge tailbacks on Saudi border officials only working certain hours each day, as well as their insistence on x-raying every vehicle entering their country from Bahrain.
On Monday, trucks were seen queuing all the way down Shaikh Isa bin Salman Highway, from the Bahrain-Saudi border to Janabiya Highway, which is the exit for Saar and Budaiya.
Businesses are complaining that perishable goods such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products are stuck so long on the road to Saudi Arabia that they are ruined by the time they arrive.
A five-hour roundtrip from Bahrain to Dammam, in Saudi's Eastern Province, is reportedly taking up to four days to complete.
One transport firm said 17 of its drivers had already resigned because they refused to put up with the conditions on the road, spending days without access to food and proper toilet facilities.
'I have a cargo of fruit, which is already beginning to rot,' said a trucker stranded for two days. 'I am also running short of diesel since I have to keep the engine running even while I have parked to keep cool in the cab.'
The Pakistani said there were at least 10 other drivers from his company who had been waiting for four days.
Another driver, an Indian, said he and six others from his company were carrying ice-cream to be delivered to Dammam.
'I have no clue what has happened to the cargo since I am now not switching on the engine to save on fuel,' he added.
The driver said his company had promised to supply him food while he waited.
A Nepalese driver said he and a helper had been stuck for three days.
'We have been depending on the generosity of other drivers for the last 24 hours since we have no food,' he said.
The Nepali said during daytime drivers had no choice but to use nearby gardens and fields to go to the toilet.
At night, when there is no truck movement, some hitch a ride to Budaiya or Saar to use toilet facilities at the living quarters of acquaintances.
Another driver, a Filipino, said he had been stranded for two days.
'I am taking a cargo of aluminium cables to a factory in Dammam. Normally, I come back in three to four hours but this is getting to be very annoying. What can we do? We have to wait it out.'
An official at one major transport company said some of his trucks had finally entered Saudi Arabia yesterday.
'Several more are still waiting to cross over,' he added. – TradeArabia News Service
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