Talks bid on Bahrain trucks crisis
Manama, November 21, 2011
A series of key meetings will be held in Bahrain in a desperate attempt to end massive delays facing trucks at the King Fahad Causeway, with the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) taking urgent steps to solve the month-long crisis.
It will conduct the first of a string of meetings with local transport chiefs today to discuss possible solutions, including speeding up Customs procedures on the Saudi side of the border.
"There has been no progress so far regarding the delays on the causeway, which is affecting businesses locally and across the causeway and we cannot go on like this much longer," said BCCI transport committee chairman Abdulhakim Shammery, who is also an MP.
The first meeting will highlight the drawbacks of the situation, find possible solutions for both causeway and transport counterparts, and review the annual technical inspection of the causeway.
Shammery was speaking as hundreds of trucks continued to park off the Shaikh Isa bin Salman Highway in Janabiya and Hamala yesterday, waiting for the green light to cross into Saudi Arabia.
The BCCI has also called for an urgent meeting of the GCC Transport Committee, which operates under the GCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The meeting is expected to be held next Monday and will attempt to tackle the problem and re-facilitate easy movement of trucks and goods through the GCC borders.
After finalising our resolutions locally, we will submit it to the GCC Transport Committee to review the crisis and implement quick and efficient solutions, added Shammery.
Resolving this situation will not only help the ease of movement across the causeway but also support an environment where businesses can operate freely with minimum losses.
Two days of talks between Bahraini and Saudi transport chiefs were due to take place over the weekend, but no information was available on the progress.
The Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper, reported last month it was taking drivers up to four days to complete the journey, which should only be taking just a few hours.
The crisis, which first started more than two months ago, appeared to have been resolved at the beginning of this month following intervention of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
Saudi border authorities appeared to speed up the processing of heavy goods vehicles waiting to enter the country from Bahrain, but the problem returned again this week.
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 camped out at makeshift truck stops.
Transport bosses have blamed the huge tailbacks on Saudi border officials only working certain hours each day, as well as delays caused by vehicle X-rays. – TradeArabia News Service