New gates on Saudi Arabian side and launch of dedicated toll e-payment lanes on both sides to enable greater passenger numbers
A new development project on the King Fahd Causeway, the sea link that connects Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, has increased the bridge’s capacity by 45% ahead of its reopening to passenger traffic after being closed in March.
According to the King Fahd Causeway Authority (KFCA) major renovation works have been done on the link after the suspension of passenger travel earlier this year due to the Covid-19 crisis. The works include the introduction of new gates on the Saudi side and dedicated e-payment lanes to facilitate processing of the bridge toll on both sides.
The KFCA added that the project is a part of efforts aimed at increasing the capacity of the causeway that connects the two kingdoms and bears considerable economic importance for both countries, particularly where tourism is concerned. Analysis of tourism data for 2019 shows that Bahrain welcomed 11.1 million visitors last year, of which 9.7 million (88%) arrived via the King Fahd Causeway.
Bahrain Customs recently installed high-tech artificial intelligence scanners on the causeway, automating data collection and allowing shipment inspections to take place before reaching the border. This has greatly increased both the speed and capacity for processing as demonstrated by a 15% growth in trade between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in the first quarter of this year, according to the Bahrain Economic Development Board.
The sea link was opened in 1986 and is one of the busiest land border crossings in the Middle East today, with an estimated 390 million passengers having used it to date. Commercial traffic with necessary goods has continued to flow on the bridge even during the Covid-19 crisis.