Cement delays hit key projects

Cement delays hit key projects
Published: 07 November 2007

Major construction projects in Bahrain are reportedly being brought to a standstill, at a cost of millions, by daily delays in trucking cement from Saudi Arabia.

Customs bottlenecks in both directions on the King Fahad Causeway have drastically reduced the number of cement loads coming into the country each day, says the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

Huge tailbacks have in the last few months contributed to "millions in losses" and delays that could ultimately affect the infrastructure development in the country, BCCI contractors’ committee chairman Samir Nass said yesterday.

"We have taken up the matter with the authorities, but nothing tangible has been done so far," he told the GDN. "However, we have been assured of some steps being taken."

Mr Nass was reacting to contractors’ complaints that they regularly run out of cement and other commodities that they have to import via or from Saudi Arabia.

"The industry is suffering," said Mr Nass.

"The traffic has been cut by almost a third, since trucks have to wait several hours to get across the border."

"This results in each truck, for example, making only one trip per day as compared with two or three."

Mr Nass said the situation had worsened over the last few months.

"The construction volumes have increased considerably but, apparently, there has been no staff increase at Bahrain Customs," he said.

"Also responsible is a Saudi law that prevents customs clearing agents from working more than one shift, so they work only from dawn to dusk."

United Cement Company terminal operations supervisor A K Khan said his company trucks were making 30 to 35 trips per day, compared to 75 earlier.

"We are hard pressed to explain to our customers why we are unable to deliver cement they require on time," he said.

Each cement truck carries 30 tonnes, which means that 40 trips less results in a substantial loss," said Mr Khan.

"We are losing money, the contractors are losing time and the clients are incurring huge loses. We appeal to the authorities to take some urgent steps," he said.

Mr Khan said more than 1,000 trucks cross the Causeway every day, but "there are scores at any time waiting for clearance, that takes between four and six hours."