Talks SOS over Causeway truck delays
Manama, November 17, 2011
A Bahraini transport chief is demanding emergency talks after massive truck delays returned at King Fahad Causeway with hundreds of truckers camped out and waited to cross into Saudi Arabia yesterday.
Some of them spent Tuesday night sleeping rough after major delays returned at the border.
Our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News (GDN), reported last month that it was taking drivers up to four days to complete a journey that should take hours.
It appeared the crisis had been resolved at the beginning of this month following the intervention of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
Crunch talks were expected to take place this week that would end the problem for good.
However, it appears little else has happened and truck drivers were again being made to wait in open areas of Janabiya and Hamala yesterday for their turn to cross into Saudi Arabia.
They were being allowed onto the Shaikh Isa bin Salman Highway, which leads to the massive bridge linking Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, in batches.
MP and Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry transport committee chairman Abdulhakim Shammery blamed the delays on Saudi Customs authorities returning to 'normal'.
'There is also once again no co-ordination between authorities in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and that is why this situation had arisen,' he added. “We are still waiting for some kind of talks to take place between the two sides so that there is a permanent solution, but that has not happened.'
Shammery had earlier warned the problem would return if proper steps were not taken to address the issue.
'The only way the issue can be addressed is to have Saudi Customs work round-the-clock like their Bahraini counterparts, not between 4am and 4pm as they do now.'
He said he was ready to travel to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to resolve the impasse.
'However, I need the government to sanction the trip and give me people to work with,' said Shammery.
He said the threat to business was massive, since delays in transporting perishable food and other goods were costing companies.
'This is affecting business in Bahrain and everyone is suffering,' he said.
Truckers were last month being forced to wait for up to four days before they were allowed to enter Saudi Arabia.
However, after a fatal crash in which an American motorist drove into two parked trucks and GDN articles highlighting massive tailbacks on the Shaikh Isa bin Salman Highway, authorities directed waiting drivers onto wasteland near the highway - where they lived temporarily at makeshift truck stops.
The problem first began more than two months ago and business leaders have said the delays were causing havoc to trade, hurting companies on both sides of the causeway.
Transport bosses had blamed the huge tailbacks on Saudi border officials working only certain hours each day, as well as delays caused by vehicle X-rays. – TradeArabia News Service