‘Telcos, banks behind most travel bans’
Manama, October 3, 2012
Telecom companies and banks are behind 90 per cent of travel bans imposed on expatriates in Bahrain, according to a top government official.
The figure was revealed yesterday by Colonel Ghazi Al Senan, search and follow up director at the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (GDNPR).
He said most cases did not involve "huge amounts" of money.
"Ninety per cent of cases of travel bans on expatriates are by telecom companies and a few banks," he told our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News (GDN).
He was speaking on the sidelines of a Press conference yesterday to announce the opening of the new GDNPR office at the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), in Sanabis.
Sources told the GDN that some of those who had been slapped with travel bans through the courts had outstanding debts of just BD20 ($52.73).
"There have been instances when people went to the airport to travel and were told they have travel bans against them for nonpayment of bills," they added.
Col Al Senan said most expats facing travel bans were Asians, but the GDNPR was currently renewing or transferring their residence permits - legitimising their presence in Bahrain and allowing them to find jobs.
GDNPR assistant under-secretary Shaikh Ahmed bin Isa Al Khalifa said the aim was to make life easier for foreigners living under travel bans.
"We are working with concerned embassies to ease this problem among expatriates," he said. "We have dealt with a lot of cases related to travel ban in recent months."
The GDN reported last month that 93 expats living with travel bans had benefited from an initiative to fast-track their cases since June. This allowed 25 to return home, while 68 were able to renew or transfer their residence permits to find legitimate jobs in Bahrain.
Travel bans are designed to prevent those who owe money from fleeing the country without settling outstanding debts.
People living under court-imposed travel bans previously could not have their residence permits renewed - meaning they could not find jobs to pay off loans or other outstanding bills.
GDNPR Under-Secretary Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa announced identity cards and residence visas would be granted to such people while their cases were being reviewed.
Rights activists had earlier said that around 4,000 people with travel bans were living in the kingdom. – TradeArabia News Service