Crossroads Arabia

Take Causeway To Bahrain? Prepare for a Long Wait

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King Fahd Causeway travelling from Bahrain towards Umman Na'san Island Bahrain - Saudi Border Post

Asharq Alawsat reports on the extraordinary growth of traffic across the King Fahd Causeway linking Saudi Arabia with Bahrain. The route now carries more than ten times as much traffic as it was originally designed to do. While lines of vehicles waiting to cross between the two countries continue to be long, the flow keeps up because of constant widening of the span. There are now 18 lanes for traffic, with special lines for particular users.

The span is still relatively narrow and I suppose widening it could — at some point — make Bahrain and Saudi Arabia one, contiguous area.

Increased Traffic on King Fahd Causeway

Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—As one of the highlights of the “megaprojects” of the Arabian Gulf, the King Fahd Causeway is some 16 miles (26 km) long. Unfortunately, queues and traffic jams can at times also reach this length, as Badr Al-Atishan, the director-general of the project, admits.

Traffic on the causeway is getting heavier and heavier every year, and the bridge is in near-constant use. Official figures document an average of over 1.5 million vehicles traversing the bridge each month.

In operation since November 26, 1986, this vast structure connects the island of Bahrain to mainland Saudi Arabia, and it is utilized by all aspects of both Saudi Arabian and Bahraini society.

According to Col. Marai Al-Qahtani, the causeway’s passport manager, there were 11.27 million passengers during the first six months of this year. This is an increase of 1.34 million passengers over the first half of 2012, during which the crossing was used 9.88 million times. Compared with last year, there has been an increase of 6,000 vehicles per day.

And the trend shows no signs of slowing.

Qahtani explains that an average of over 50,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day. These figures are even higher on weekends and public holidays such as Ramadan and Hajj.

The causeway staff manage to handle these high traffic volumes despite the fact that when the bridge was built 27 years ago it was designed to accommodate 5,000 cars and 120 trucks per day. In part, this is made feasible by constant widening of the bridge.

One Response to Take Causeway To Bahrain? Prepare for a Long Wait

  1. Steve Royston 31/07/2013 at 10:53 AM

    I’m a regular user of the causeway, and I have never seen a 16km line of traffic waiting to cross. It’s fair to say that there are better times to cross than others. For example, avoid pay-day at the end of the month if you are coming from Saudi Arabia!

    But by and large, for the car driver, the crossing is not too traumatic, and other than at peak times, you can get through the formalities in 30 minutes, which compares well with some of the less organised ports of entry – Jeddah airport for example.

    Unfortunately, things are not so easy for the truckers. The Saudi and Bahraini authorities seem incapable of reaching an enduring protocol for clearance of trucks, with the result that from the Bahraini side you often see long tailbacks, and sometimes delays of several days, much to the discomfort of the drivers themselves and to the frustration of the owners.

    A rail link will definitely help to ease the congestion, as will expanding the entry lanes. But these are major capital projects, and in the interim, it should not be beyond the authorities to improve the process. Passport scanning and a unified customs function with twice the processing capacity would be steps in the right direction.

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