Crunch talks to avert Bahrain truck crisis
Manama, November 13, 2011
Crunch talks have been lined up for this week that could come up with long-term solutions to delays in trucks entering Saudi Arabia from Bahrain.
The problem has largely vanished since November 2, after measures were taken to streamline the passage of heavy vehicles across the border.
Steps were taken around a week after our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News, first highlighted truck queues stretching several kilometres, forcing drivers to wait up to four days to enter Saudi Arabia to complete journeys that in some cases take just a matter of hours.
Business leaders said the delays were causing havoc to trade that hurt companies on both sides of the King Fahad Causeway, often resulting in perishable goods spoiling before they had even been delivered.
Transport bosses blamed the tailbacks on Saudi border officials only working certain hours each day, as well as their insistence on X-raying every vehicle entering Saudi Arabia.
Traffic returned to normal after His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa issued directives to streamline truck movement.
But while the matter appears to have been addressed on the surface, MP and Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) transport committee chairman Abdulhakim Shammery said he feared it was just a temporary fix.
'The intense media campaign and pressure from the BCCI as well as others have led to the problem being resolved for now,' he said.
'However, there can be no permanent solution unless Customs authorities on the Saudi side of the border work round the clock, like those on the Bahrain side.'
He warned the problem would resurface unless steps were taken to resolve it once and for all and revealed a meeting of officials from both countries could take place next week.
'We have pressed the government to have Saudi Customs authorities work round the clock to expedite movement of trucks across the border,' Shammery said.
The Gulf Daily News first highlighted massive truck queues following the death of 73-year-old American motorist Dennis Delano Brow, who crashed into two trucks on the King Fahad Causeway.
Authorities responded by moving waiting trucks to open ground and roads off the Shaikh Isa bin Salman Highway, creating makeshift truck stops where drivers spent days without access to fresh food or other amenities.
'Hopefully, we shall have a permanent solution soon because continuation of this situation is a huge drain on Bahrain's economy,' added Shammery. – TradeArabia News Service