King Fahd Causeway. Image: Courtesy GDN
New steps planned to end causeway chaos
Manama, January 4, 2014
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior is considering a joint border control system with Bahrain to reduce congestion on the King Fahd Causeway, a report in Arab News said.
The move would entail a traveller stopping only once when entering or exiting both countries, the Saudi Passport Department was quoted as saying in the report.
The step comes in the wake of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) accusing the Passport Department and the Eastern Province traffic authority of not having sufficient personnel on the causeway to prevent bottlenecks, the report said. The Traffic Department, however, has rejected the accusations and blamed the Passport Department for the delays, it added.
Maj Gen Sulaiman Al-Yahya, director general of the Passport Department, was quoted by Arab News as saying a ministerial team had been studying procedures between the UAE and Oman that eased commuting by road between those two countries.
He said the department would install cameras linked to its headquarters to monitor staff performance and verify complaints. The department also plans to increase staff numbers during peak times.
Meanwhile, Bahrain's businessmen have backed plans to examine ways to reduce congestion on the causeway, a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN) said.
According to official statistics, more than 5,000 vehicles and 120 lorries use the causeway every day. But that number can increase dramatically at weekends, on public holidays and other occasions such as Eid, Ramadan and during the pilgrimage season.
MP and BCCI Customs and Ports joint committee co-chairman Abdulhakeem Al Shamri welcomed the decision to investigate the problem.
"Having the anti-corruption commission monitoring the situation will lead to a positive effect and will facilitate the movement of tourists and traders on the causeway," he was quoted as saying by GDN.
"We (the committee) have already announced that the reason for all the delays is the lack of efficiency of the human resources. There are staff on the causeway that don't perform to the best of their capability or that are assigned one task but do another or just don't show up.
"By monitoring the causeway it will have an immediate effect."
Although he believes Nazaha stepping in is a good step to reduce traffic problems on the causeway, Al Shamri says much more needs to be done.
"I think if we can get a direct feed from the cameras on the causeway to the office of the Crown Prince in both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, it will make a huge difference as they can see the picture live without information getting diluted," he told the GDN.
"Political leaders need to have access to as much information as possible so they can give more attention to the issue and see it as it unfolds.
"The problems on the causeway are not complicated to fix but require some increased monitoring." - TradeArabia News Service