Truckers ‘on brink of starvation’
Manama, October 10, 2012
Scores of truckers who have been waiting days to cross the King Fahad Causeway into Saudi Arabia claim they were on the brink of starvation.
Nearly 200 trucks were yesterday queued up on the Isa bin Salman Highway and on open ground in Janabiya while they wait for clearance.
A lack of space and issues with clearing agents and Customs officials have been blamed for the problem, which has reportedly cost businesses in Bahrain millions of dinars.
The chaos was earlier temporarily solved, but resurfaced during Ramadan and truckers have been waiting for up to four days to cross the causeway since.
However, the truckers, many of who were yesterday into their fourth day of camping out, say they have run out of food, water and petrol.
They claim there was no rule as to who passes the border and who returns to the camping site, adding traffic police have no control over who jumps the queue.
"I have been sleeping under my truck at night, have been to the crossing point and returned five times in the last three days and have no food with me," said Indian Devinder Singh.
"I am not alone. There are many other drivers who are roughing it out."
Another driver described how trucks emerge from their camping site early in the morning, queue up on the highway and try to get across.
However, he claimed some influential truck owners managed to easily get their trucks across.
"If they set up a kind of mechanism that works on the first come, first served basis, the situation would be better," said Pakistani Afzal Khan.
"This way, we are all trying to get ahead of the other and are suffering."
Al Wardi Transport managing director Turki Al Wardi said many of his truck drivers have been stuck at the border for days.
"Me and other company owners had gone to the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as to the Industry and Commerce Ministry, but officials only told us to be patient," he added.
"How much more patient can we be? We are losing a lot of money and suffering. We are losing contracts that will not come back to us.”
"In addition, Bahraini businesses are losing out to others in the region."
Meanwhile, a group of Nepalese truck drivers said they had been chased away and abused by some residents.
"We do not blame them. They are as frustrated as we are since we are crowding around their houses," said driver Ram Bahadur.
"But what can we do? We have to remain here and use the open grounds as toilets and urinals.”
"We cannot leave the trucks since we are not sure when we will have to move."
Another man said he had run out of fuel two days ago, but was provided with a tank full yesterday after his company owner intervened.
"I do not know when I will run out again because I have to keep the truck's cooling system on for the most part of the day to preserve my load of ice cream," he said.
"I am not even sure what has happened to it since I am not supposed to open the container." – TradeArabia News Service