Bahrain truck chaos continue
Manama, December 23, 2012
Bahrain’s main transport companies claim they have been sidelined by authorities as the chaos of trucks crossing into Saudi Arabia continues.
They said a new appointment system created to streamline trucks crossing over the King Fahad Causeway had worked for a few days, but they were now back at square one, our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News reported.
The ongoing crisis - created by scores of parked trucks queueing up on the Isa bin Salman Highway waiting to cross into Saudi Arabia - has blocked access to several residential compounds in the Jasra and Janabiya areas.
Truckers had blamed the slow clearing process on Saudi Customs and a lack of space at the crossing on the causeway.
Authorities had earlier stepped in to end the problem by establishing a scheme, whereby trucks would cross the border daily through fixed appointments.
However, transport companies say the problem has resurfaced and the scheme was creating further delays.
One company was forced to load up 14 trucks with an assortment of goods and wait for more than a week to cross the border.
"This was in spite of assurances that we would be called in two or three days," said Al Wardi Transport managing director Turki Al Wardi.
"We were told we should load our trucks and wait in our yards until an appointment with the Customs authorities was given for the vehicles to move along the Isa bin Salman Highway," he said.
"That worked for a few days and we were moving in a day or two, but now we have to wait for several days before an appointment to move is given."
He explained that trucks were often given an appointment to cross over, only to be turned away once they reach the insurance point at the causeway.
"This creates more problems for us and the residents of the area since there is only one narrow road to take a virtual U-turn and return to Bahrain and it results in traffic being held up," he said.
Tariq Transport managing director Tariq Al Wardi claimed the plight of truckers has been ignored by officials from the Industry and Commerce Ministry, the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Customs.
"We try to meet them but we are not able to. We are feeling increasingly frustrated. We know we have been hoodwinked by the authorities into believing they are looking at our problems sympathetically," he said.
"All that has happened in the last two weeks is that the truck queues have moved into several areas of Bahrain now as opposed to near the King Fahad Causeway."
Another trucker said officials charged with giving out appointments have been dodging calls from transport companies.
"There is no way we can get our problems across. We have no choice but to wait," he added.
"Meanwhile, we continue to suffer losses since we are unable to deliver on time."
The GDN first wrote about the trucks issue, after complaints from Bahrain's contractors, in January 2008.
Since then, the problem had remained though it was temporarily solved at times.
Officials at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Industry and Commerce Ministry, Customs authorities and traders committees have repeatedly said they were trying to solve the problem.
Some transport companies had earlier temporarily halted operations to Saudi Arabia due to the delays.
Truck drivers had even last month threatened to proceed to the causeway and block all access to the road even if they were stopped by authorities. – TradeArabia News Service