The International Transport Union (IRU), the world road transport organisation representing the voice of 3.5 million transport operating companies, has raised concerns about ongoing delays at Border Controls between countries across Europe, despite the Green Lanes for freight traffic initiative being established. IRU President Radu Dinescu has written to all Transport Ministers across Europe Member States to implement the Green Lanes initiative for freight transport, if they have not already done so.
Excerpts from the letter include: “In these difficult times, our thoughts go out to those who are working hard to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Part of the fight, and immediate concern, is to ensure supply chains remain functional. As a result of health and safety measures, the movement of goods has significantly decreased due to the general slowdown of the economic activity in the EU. The remaining movements are crucial to ensure continuity of essential supplies, such as food and medical goods.”
The IRU is carefully monitoring the situation in the EU and is evaluating the impact on commercial road transport. The situation of freight continuity is further deteriorating and the reason is obvious: border blockages. The ‘Green Lanes’ concerted action by Member States is indispensable to ensure the integrity of logistics chains. “Newly created borders in the Schengen space should not lead to control measures that seriously hinder the flow of goods and prevents the delivery of food, water and medical supplies to citizens around Europe. Every day we observe kilometres of queues and long waiting hours at borders. This is not acceptable.”
“On 23 March, the European Commission issued practical guidance on the implementation of ‘Green Lanes’ for freight transport, which governments now need to implement. Hence, concrete action is needed now. We know from experience, that allowing for up to 15 minutes crossing borders is leading to days of queues in reality. Trucks are stuck at external EU borders for 2-3 days, although customs procedures only take 2-3 minutes per vehicle. Therefore, our urgent call is to implement ‘Green Lanes’ without delay and abandon any systematic border controls for goods transported by road. Random inspections or road-side checks should be proportionate, moved inland wherever possible, and carried out only when deemed necessary. Priority must be given to providing drivers with access to safety protection equipment, safe and secure resting and recreation facilities and free COVID-19 testing upon request. Distinguishing between categories of freight is not appropriate nor needed. Therefore, in line with the European Commission’s practical guidance on the implementation of ‘Green Lanes’, we are asking not to differentiate between categories of freight.”
Green Lanes for freight also mean that no additional administrative documents or special certificates should be demanded from drivers. A multitude of national valid forms and papers will not lead to more safety, but would rather lead to drivers being blocked at borders for a long time, which makes social distancing more difficult to implement and prevents deliveries from arriving on time.
Latest Transport News from our fellow ITOY members across Europe
The Government has decided to extend the lockdown in Italy until April 14, 2020. Return to a normal activity will be gradual after that date, according to the evolution of the epidemic. Airfreight services are subject to severe delays.
Ro-ro shipping services are running as normal, without passenger traffic. Tirrenia has stopped all ferry services to and from Sardinia and Sicily, due to financial problems. Moby Lines will run the connections with two islands.
Logistics sector is feeling the crisis now. Some companies have lost 20-50 percent of turnover. One company was severely criticised by the Unions for postponing holiday money (about a month extra wage, due in May) and withdrawing leave time, without discussing it with employees. Sector organisation TLN has made a toolbox for employers to find their way in this difficult time. TLN and partners put up 43 billboards along the Dutch highways to show their support for the seemingly tireless truck drivers. See picture.
No big news from Norway, with the country under voluntary lockdown until week 15 (Easter holiday). Nobody is allowed to sleep in their holiday cabins unless it is in the same facility that they are registered in. No restrictions in going out or driving etc. but no groups of more than five people and minimum two meters in between inside and one meter outside. In contrast to many other countries the health authorities ask people not to use masks. They claim that they don’t help and that when people use masks, they tend to touch their face more often and then have bigger chances for getting infected.
There is trouble in some communities which have made their own regulations for entering, with quarantine for everyone that comes from south of Norway. This makes trouble for businesses since workers can’t enter.
On the borders truck movement looks pretty normal, especially when Government made precise declaration which drivers are not required to quarantine when coming to the country from abroad. So, not only Polish drivers but also Ukrainian (working for Polish companies) may drive to their HQ. Also, truck drivers (professionals) returning home on other vehicles, other than their trucks are free from 14 days quarantine.
Uncertain situation with Russia which has declared closing of their borders, if trucks are allowed to go in. Still long waiting time on Ukrainian border, up to 14 hours.
After a truck driver returns from an international trips, either from the red zones or elsewhere, there is a difficult problem emerging for the Romanian truck drivers who return from Europe. Since yesterday, they have to go 14 days into quarateen, himself and his family, too.
Or, if the driver do not want to go home, the employer is obliged to pay him a room at a hotel up to 14 days.
If he has a transport trip in 5 days, he has to stay at the hotel or at a space offered by Local Authorities, be paid by the transport company for the 5 days and afterwards he can return to the truck and make a trip. When coming back, the same situation.