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Mon 22 Jun 2009 06:32 AM

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10km truck queues at Bahrain-Saudi border

Bahrain business chief says companies are being hit by delays, will run out of goods to sell.

New security checks on the Bahrain-Saudi Arabia border are being blamed for creating a 10km queue of trucks on the Saudi side of King Fahad Causeway, with some taking up to 10 days to get through border checks, it has emerged.

Thousands of trucks full of goods, many of them perishable, are being subjected to strict new security checks and businesses in Bahrain say are being badly hit by the delays and will soon start to run out of goods.

Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) retail sales and traditional markets committee head Jawad Al Hawaj said the BCCI had been inundated with calls from importers saying they face crippling losses, with trucks taking days to clear the border crossing, Gulf Daily News reported on Monday.

Drivers are having to eat and sleep in their trucks and some are saying they will not make the run again unless they are paid more, the paper reported.

Similar problems have been reported on Saudi's borders with the UAE, Yemen, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.

Reports from the UAE said some drivers had been stranded for weeks, without adequate supplies or facilities.

The logjam en route to Bahrain and at other borders has been blamed on new security measures ordered by Saudi officials.

"While this may be a security exercise, they should understand we are in the middle of the summer and the desert heat is not helping," Al Hawaj told the paper.

"We were already up to our necks, with clearing agents not working round the clock and (as a result) long delays being experienced after the trucks enter Bahrain; we now have this additional issue to deal with."

He said that though there was no large-scale effect on the retail sector as yet, it was bound to happen.

"The problem is only weeks, if not days, away. The retail sector is going to face the brunt," added Al Hawaj

According to BCCI estimates, around 550,000 trucks use the causeway every year and the figure is likely to hit a million trucks a year by 2012.

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