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Illegal kola nuts shipment seized.

Bahrain: A large shipment of contraband kola nuts being smuggled from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia has been seized on the King Fahad Causeway.

They were stuffed inside the cavities of a car and were confiscated at the border.

Kola nuts, which contain caffeine and act as a stimulant, originate in Africa and are banned in Saudi Arabia.

However, Saudi's Al Riyadh newspaper reported that smugglers tried to get them past Customs by stashing them around the engine and inside the door cavities, spare tyre and boot cavity of a car.

It quoted causeway Customs director Daifallah Al Otaibi, who said more than 600kg of kola nuts were recovered.

"On the first inspection officials found 430kg of nuts hidden on top of the car's engine and inside the door cavities," said Mr Al Otaini.

"On the second, another 247kg of nuts were found hidden, distributed inside a cavity in the boot, the side of the engine and inside a spare tyre."

It follows an attempt last month to smuggle 126 bags of kola nuts along with 202 bottles of alcohol by car to Saudi Arabia, while an attempt to smuggle 350kg of kola nuts was foiled last year.

Only last week a Bahraini businessman called for increased security checks on vehicles leaving Bahrain to deter the smuggling of goods to Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry board member and transportation and logistics committee head Abdulhakim Al Shemmari proposed tighter exit controls after it emerged that 1,060 security violations had been documented by Saudi Customs officers on the causeway during the past six months.

They included an attempt to smuggle a toddler from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia in a car, along with three bottles of alcohol, last month and the discovery of a woman being smuggled to Saudi Arabia in a car in March.

Bahraini MP Mohammed Al Maarafi has backed the call for stricter monitoring of outbound traffic on King Fahad Causeway.

"Officials at the causeway customs should be empowered with more authority, while judgements for violations and punishments must be increased," he told the GDN.

"We must increase punishments for individuals who consider smuggling a business.

"Customs authorities should improve inspection and investigation techniques and equipment, while the most advanced technology must be used."

However, he also said that there should be no impact on motorists' journey times.

"This should not cause any delays in queuing on the bridge as waiting times are sensitive for passengers on the border," he said.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:May 9, 2016
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