Monday, June 15, 2009

Saudi official speaks, says there is no real reason for truck backlog

The most bizarre and appalling situation has been brewing 350km from Abu Dhabi, at the Al Ghuwafait border crossing into Saudi Arabia, where this week a line of more than 8,000 vehicles waited to pass. Drivers have spent up to five days in baking 50C heat - some laying under their trucks for some relief from the relentless sun.

Heat exhaustion, fights, from frayed nerves and general desperation have set in. Can you imagine how depressing it would be? These men can't leave their trucks. It's a miracle someone has not died. The situation has been attributed to some sort of escalation in security measures to prevent smuggling, but last night a Saudi Ministry of the Interior official said that wasn't the case, things had just gotten a little backed up, is all.

Meanwhile the government has dispatched volunteer teams from the Red Crescent Authority (the Middle East's Red Cross) to hand out food and water, and private businesses and citizens have driven down there to hand out ice and assorted items as well. The head of operations called the situation "dangerous" while an emergency room doctor in Sila, a nearby town, said it was verging on an humanitarian crisis. One man was brought to the ER covered in sand; he been hallucinating that he was swimming in the sea. Officials from both sides are to meet in Riyadh today on the issue.

And trucks continue to join the queue, which has ranged in length from 12 to 32km.

1 comment:

amazingsusan said...

There was a similar situation at Riyadh airport when I visited in May, (although admittedly the queue didn't reach 32 km long lol).

The reason behind the back-up at the airport was a new policy to fingerprint and photograph every non-Saudi entering the Kingdom.

My controversial-to-some-uae-bloggers vid on the visit is here:

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