Thai version

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Trip from Yemen


Later working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in November, 1979 I had a Yemen labor foreman working with me. He had crossed the border illegally into Saudi Arabia to work. Later he learned to read and write both Arabic and English. He had been able to get a Yemen passport and then get the needed visa to work in Saudi Arabia when the company I worked for sponsored him. He was young very bright and a hard worker. He had told me this story of how that he got into Saudi Arabia.

It seems Saudi truck drivers know how to cross the border were there is no patrols by either the Yemen’s or the Saudi’s. They gather at a point in just below the Saudi Arabia border and get their Mercedes Trucks filled with worker to take to Riyadh or Jeddah. I had seen these trucks in Riyadh and was told that they are trucks for hauling sheep. However I now know they hauled both sheep and humans. The trucks has three racks when that they haul sheep (three deep). However when that they haul humans they have five racks (five deep). These are the modern day version of the old slave ships. They allow about the same room between the racks as did the old slave ships.

The truck drivers have extra fuel tanks on their trucks allowing them to have an extended range. They also carry tanks under the trucks for storage of water. They gather at a special point below the border, with their truck fully fueled and with the needed provisions. There the drivers take on their passengers. The passengers are charged what is about a yearly wage in Yemen, and the fee varies depending on the drivers from $300.00 to $700.00 each per passenger and were they deliver the passengers. Most have spent all of the money they have on their transportation fees, and have no money to take with them. Many of the passengers have borrowed money to make the trip from their family or friends or sold their land/house to get the money or as a last resort get money from the loan sharks. Some of the passengers have brothers, fathers, uncles, or friends working in Saudi Arabia that has sent them the money. These people will meet and help them when they arrive in Riyadh. When the driver has a full load and the every passenger has paid him in US dollars he will allow the passengers to board the truck. The passengers squeeze into the small space that is allowed to them. There are about 20 people in each deck and five decks so the truck is carrying about 100 passengers with their luggage and all, when full. Most luggage is just a cardboard box or a sack that they put everything into however a few do have cheap suitcases or gym type bags. When they are loaded the drivers start out.

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