BAHRAIN’S traffic police has come under fire from municipal councillors who described them as “bloodsuckers” for issuing heavy fines against motorists.
During yesterday’s Northern Municipal Council meeting, councillors spoke about complaints from people who were fined hundreds of dinars within days and referred to cases highlighted during a television show on Bahrain TV on motorists accumulating up to BD8,000 in fines in a month.
They demanded that the Traffic Directorate act responsibly when collecting fines which prompted councillor Taha Al Junaid to walk out of the meeting room, referring to his colleagues’ comments as disrespectful and unfair.
“Traffic policemen want to protect people’s lives and are not bloodsuckers,” shouted Mr Al Junaid in response.
“Bye. Bye. It is clear you dislike them while they are working hard to ensure people’s lives are not at stake.”
He was ordered to sit down by chairman Mohammed Buhamood, but he insisted on walking out.
“We are listening to balanced views and looking at complaints made by people and the justifications made by traffic policemen,” said Mr Buhamood.
“Mr Al Junaid disrespected everyone by walking out, something that is repetitive for the past three years, and unfortunately unlike parliament we don’t have punishments for such acts either through suspension or pay cuts.
“There are problems with speed sensors with the biggest being the one under the Khalifa Bin Salman Bridge towards Seef and Sanabis, costing people hundreds of dinars as they have to reduce their speed from 100kmph on the highway to 50kmph or else they get fined up to BD100.
“Logically who can reduce the speed in such a short distance from the allowed speed limit on the highway to the junction – and what if the traffic light is green? It is very difficult to reduce this speed.”
Bahrain has witnessed increased traffic patrols, installation of high-tech cameras on all major highways and the implementation of stringent punishments.
This follows the introduction of the new Traffic Law in February 2015, which imposes jail sentences of up to six months for people caught using their mobile phone while driving.
Those who exceed the speed limit by 30 per cent face fines of between BD50 and BD250 and up to three months behind bars, while drivers who jump red lights face up to six months in jail and fines of between BD100 and BD500, but if it leads to an accident the jail term could be one year and the fine between BD1,000 and BD3,000.
A driving points system was later implemented with cumulative demerits for traffic offences.
If a driver accumulates, for the first time, 20 points during a calendar year, his licence will be withdrawn for three months.
Council member Mohammed Bilshock yesterday criticised the Traffic Directorate for setting up inconsistent speed limits on connecting roads.
“The cameras and sensors are set that even if the speed limit is passed by 1kmph it constitutes a fine,” he said.
“People’s money are being drained by these bloodsuckers on pay day and now they have turned into a Finance Ministry making more money through fines that many are not aware of until they receive a notice weeks later, and not just one fine but several at once.
“During a show on BTV they spoke to a woman who works in an office in Seef who found out that she had fines up to BD2,000 in just last month due to the new junction sensor, while a couple who drive between the junction to and from their home were fined a total of BD8,000.”
Councillor Khaled Qambar also claimed the cameras were causing accidents as motorists came to a sudden stop to avoid passing the speed limit from one highway to another.
“I don’t have the actual statistics of traffic accidents now, but they are in the same average from when the old traffic law was enforced or the new one was adopted in 2015 – the only thing that has changed is bloodsucking has become a hobby for traffic police,” he said.
“Social media, majlises and even BTV are debating the issue. What is happening is that this is putting many in financial troubles and is not helping achieve anything.”