Bahrain-Saudi causeway 'ticketing scrapped'
Manama, January 16, 2013
A strict ticketing system aimed at preventing traffic chaos caused by trucks waiting to cross into Saudi Arabia from Bahrain failed within days of being introduced, said a report.
Vehicles carrying food, perishable items and mail were given priority as part of new measures introduced on New Year's Day, according to a report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News (GDN).
It was hoped the move would end the ongoing crisis, created by scores of trucks being forced to queue up on the Isa bin Salman Highway while they waited to cross the King Fahad Causeway.
But transportation companies said the system was scrapped - just three days after its launch.
"The plan was good and meant we had categories in place with trucks carrying perishables getting top priority," said one company boss.
"However, soon, there were so many trucks waiting for appointments that the whole system was withdrawn. We are back to where we were at the end of the year and where we have been for several months now. We are back to square one."
The businessman claimed trucks not carrying perishables were being ignored.
"Clearly, there is a lack of staff to manage so many trucks, and we are all turned back as soon as we reach the crossing point," he said.
Many companies which sent their vehicles to the border crossing without appointments have reportedly been fined in the last few days.
"I have a few contractual obligations to fulfil after which I have nothing left to do," said the truck company owner. The only alternative is to sit at home or do business within Bahrain. That will not help."
Another company owner claimed his trucks were being targeted as he spoke out.
"Our trucks are deliberately turned back while some others are allowed in," he said. "We have volunteered our own people to help with the token system, but to no avail."
Hundreds of trucks have periodically been queuing up on the highway leading to the causeway since the beginning of Ramadan last July.
They have also been forced to park on open grounds in Janabiya and Jasra before they are allowed to move towards the crossing.
The chaos has been blamed on "lazy" Saudi customs as well as lack of space and resources on the border to expedite the smooth movement of trucks.
Residents of compounds in Jasra have also been campaigning against the problem and approached traffic officials who vowed to resolve the matter.
"We were in a bad situation for a few weeks but the problem had apparently been resolved, and no longer was the only access to our homes being blocked," said one resident, who did not wish to be named.
"However, the problem is back with a vengeance and we are again struggling. Children are late for school, their parents are unable to go to work on time and if we go out in the afternoon we are unable to return till late in the evening because the road leading to the compound is blocked."
The ticketing system was agreed on during a meeting of truck company owners and Customs and Traffic Directorate officials on December 27.
Officials from the Industry and Commerce Ministry, traders, manufacturers and exporters were also present.
The GDN first wrote about the trucks issue following complaints from Bahrain's contractors in January 2008. – TradeArabia News Service