News from Home & Abroad relating to road transport and the Coronavirus

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WHO world map Covid 19

Hauliers heralded by Irish Prime Minister

Governmental support for International hauliers established

RSA to postpone site inspections

Auto industry grinds to a halt

Serious situations across Europe

In an address to the nation on TV last night Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar paid tribute to the transport operators maintaining the supply chain going. In a pledge to the public, he stated: “We will keep our essential services, supply chains and utilities operating.”

“Our hauliers, who leave their families on a Sunday evening and travel across the continent to ensure that we have the products, medicine and equipment that we need. All who have kept our supply chain moving, we thank them, a different kind of frontline service,” he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has advised that they are available to support any haulier who may need assistance when overseas. They have put in place a new dedicated line for COVID19 with staff manning this number on a 24-hour basis.  The number of this single consular helpline can be shared with all stakeholders:  +353(0)16131733.

More general information and queries on consular services and emergencies abroad is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs website at: https://www.dfa.ie/travel/

Just to reiterate again that on advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team,  the Government is advising against all non-essential travel overseas at least until March 29 and that anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, will be required to restrict their movements on arrival for 14 days. However, it is made clear that essential supply chain service providers such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff are exempt from this guidance.

Statement from the Road Safety Authority regarding postponement of site compliance audits

“The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is to cease holding face-to-face enforcement inspections with immediate effect until 29th March in line with the latest government advice on the Covid-19 virus.  This will be kept under continuous review. The RSA enforcement activities will be continuing to the fullest extent possible. All operators and drivers are expected to comply with current requirements and to act responsibly in respect of their legal obligations. While premises inspections will not be taking place, operators and drivers seeking guidance information or wishing to make a complaint can contact the Authority through the usual channels and further information in that regard is available on the RSA website. The Authority is also making arrangements to ensure that applicants seeking digital tachograph cards can submit applications for processing although we are encouraging all applicants to use the on-line platform in that regard.”

The Coronavirus emergency is disrupting Europe’s automotive industry, forcing plants to close or reduce production. Across Europe an increasing number of manufacturers has announced that they are closing their plants such as BMW, Fiat, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, PSA, Renault and Toyota. Auto dealerships have closed subsequently. As raw materials suppliers cease production, logistics operations have also comes to a halt, a major issue for members of the ECG – the Association of European Vehicle Logistics. It has cancelled its forthcoming General Assembly & Spring Congress due to happen in Malaga on 14/15 May.

“We inform our members that as the annual General Assembly is a statutory requirement for our association the assembly will therefore nonetheless take place on 14 May (3pm CET) in online format (webinar). The agenda will remain unchanged and the board elections will go ahead. Further details on how to participate in this webinar will be communicated in the coming weeks,” according to its statement.

Latest information from transport magazine editorial colleagues around Europe:

Slowdown in Austria

Transport: Driving Times and Sunday driving restrictions are loosened for the time being. Transport is working more or less normal, keeping the supply chain for food and other essential goods etc., running is one of the primary goals. Train traffic between Austrian cities is very limited. Last day probably tomorrow.

On the road service and assistance is fully available within all brands.

Big manufacturers like MAN, Meiller or Magna closed their factories or will close them within this week. But the MAN Steyr factory is under surveillance by its Munich HQ anyway. Due to saving plans at MAN, maybe they will close it after 106 years. Not because of corona.

Borders: All borders are closed now. A lot of people are trying to get home especially to the east. e.g., nearly 20 kilometers traffic jam at Hungarian border because they only let in Hungarians! Even for transport there is quite a waiting time.

Police is here to keep everything under control.

Cargo chaos in Croatia

As everywhere, most of the businesses are closed. Borders are closed. Situation about cargo transport is rather chaotic and changing on daily basis. First drivers has to go in quarantine for 14 days. Now they go to driving from quarantine and go back again. Trucks passing borders in convoys. Truck drivers are unsung heroes of this situation.

Trouble at Hungary’s borders

Same sharp restrictions as in most of European countries. Hungarian borders closed. (Only limited road transport and Hungarian citizens allowed to cross the border).

Hundreds of Romanian, Bulgarian and Serbians in passengers cars stopped. Asked to turn back to but they want to go home.

Because of this decision, there was unrest at the crossings with violence at Austrian-Hungarian border. Some of these people after waiting 10-15 hours at the barrier, and getting very annoyed.  The chaos lasted for around 3 hours. The border traffic totally stopped as a result. Police had to be called in, now the road transport fluent – 5-7 hours waiting… At the Ukrainian border it 30-40 hour.

As Hungary is a transit country, foreign trucks has to fuel-up at selected appointed fuel stations, others prohibited.

Problems at Polish borders

On an interactive map prepared by a telematics specialist allows people to see waiting time on Polish borders. The longest queues are on German-Poland passes near Goerlitz (A4) where vehicle must wait around 20 hours. Problem is so big because a lot of Lituanians and Belarus citizens try to go home by car and minibuses. Until now all  road traffic was organized onto one road, and there was no need to stop anybody for check and controls. Today, cars are disturbing other vehicles, mainly  trucks.

Police estimates that the medical check of truck drivers and their truck takes 3 to 5 minutes but there are hundreds of vehicles lined-up at these border controls. This border infrastructure there for the last 14 years adjusted to common, fast flow of trucks and cars, now it doesn’t work.

Serious situation in Romania 

Unfortunately, many Romanian people, who had to leave the Italian resorts, which are now closed due to the lack of tourists, are coming back to Romania, some infected, to be treated from the very poor health system in Romania. They did not have social insurance paid in the countries they work, therefore they hurried to Romania where all the citizens are treated the same no matter if you contribute or not at the health system.

In the last 10 days few hundreds thousands of Romanians came back in the country from Italy, Spain, France and Portugal, mainly, but also other countries. “We do not know how many of them are infected, because we do not have enough tests to be done, we do not have enough capacities in hospitals and labs to process the tests,” stated our correspondent.”

This is why people in Romania are terrified. Because 4 million Romanian immigrants contributed with their work for the most powerful countries in Europe and when it is a deep crisis like that they make longer queues at the Romanian border than the Syrians at the Turkish border!

“We have in Romania only 90 beds with ventilation necessary for  those whose state of health become critical.

Who to save first? We have 30,000 Romanian doctors immigrated in the last 10 years caring the sick people in Italy, France, Spain, Germany or UK. Tonight, the minister of health made an emotional call at the young students to volunteer and be ready to help the few doctors remained in the country when we will face difficult times in the COVID 19 situation.”

Last night at 21:00, almost 800 Romanian cars left from Austrian-Hungarian border to Romania. It is about 6,500 people who will have to be taken in quarantine, but we do not have the spaces available. National Army puts tents at the border for the first check of these people. About 6,500 people minimum to be tested in the coming days. It is huge effort, which will end out with many errors as well. The convoy will be escorted between 21:00 and 05:00 in the morning.

At the moment, there are about 210 people infected (all of them coming from Italy, Spain, Norway, Israel, so already monitored after coming back in Romania), but after one week we will see different numbers that we will not be able to handle. People not monitored who were in contact with many others. This is why the Romanian authorities are also really scared.

What is interesting is that each country closes borders, react independently, there is no coordination as a Union.

Who is going to speak any more about the Mobility Package in May, after this terrible health crisis.