Waiting times for delivery lorries on the King Fahd Causeway are set to be cut by 90 per cent, dramatically reducing the transit time for goods between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
The latest logistics technology passed a pilot scheme that has been running since January, which cut waiting times for delivery drivers from four hours to just 20 minutes.
It promises to deliver a huge boost to trade and is the latest stimulus offered by the Bahrain government to prepare for growth in a post-pandemic world, when the 25-kilometre causeway reopens in May.
Testing found vehicles were processed faster using technology from Saudi Arabian platform provider Tabadul, allowing businesses to book appointments with customs authorities on both sides of the border to speed up crossings.
"Trade between Saudi and Bahrain reached 10.9 billion SAR (US$ 2.9 billion) in 2020 – despite the movement of goods being restricted to essentials for a few months at the height of the pandemic," Ali Al Moulani, president of the Bahrain Economists Society said.
“This latest move by the Causeway Authority will improve efficiency for exporters and boost trade between both countries.
“Manufacturers and exporters will directly benefit from this investment in improved connectivity and advanced digital infrastructure,” Mr Al Moulani said.
In the past year, the Bahrain Customs Authority automated data collection and installed AI scanners, allowing shipment inspections to take place before cargo reached the border.
Expansion of the Authorised Economic Operator programme – a joint Bahrain and Saudi partnership that facilitates faster processing of large multinationals using Bahrain as a regional hub – also promises to boost trade.
The development follows the opening of a new terminal at Bahrain International Airport, as well as big investments in technology at Bahrain Logistics Zone, the Bahrain International Investment Park and the Khalifa bin Salman Port.
Plans are under way for a second bridge connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, offering enhanced capacity for cargo lorries and the latest technologies to enhance export activity and improved customs processes.
The King Fahd Causeway was due to reopen on March 31, but that date was pushed back to May 17.
The causeway has been closed since March 8 last year, under coronavirus restrictions.