Crisis response unit established to assist hauliers

Ljubljana, 21 March - The government has established a crisis response unit to deal with issues faced by hauliers as the nation fights to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, Infrastructure Minister Tadej Vrtovec said on Saturday. Among other tasks, the unit will help hauliers manage paperwork and resolve complications in foreign countries.

A convoy of cargo vehicles from Italy with a police escort.
Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Trucks with perishable goods cannot be held up on borders for 15 hours, he said a televised statements, a format that has replaced government press conferences as the country is mounting an effort to fight the spread of covid-19.

Vrtovec said that each country was looking after its own interests in the face of the Europe-wide covid-19 threat. He said that Slovenia will allow passage of trucks from Italy if Croatia will grant them entry.

The hauliers crisis response unit was initiated by the Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS). The unit features representatives of the foreign and defence ministries and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).

OZS transport section president Peter Pišek said earlier this week that, as countries were closing their borders due to the pandemic, the unit would deal with various issues, including visas for drivers, creation of corridors and transport policy.

Pišek noted that Vrtovec had contacted Foreign Minister Anže Logar on Wednesday to talk about permits for drivers, adding that a diplomatic cable would be sent to the countries where hauliers faced the biggest problems already that day.

He added that Slovenian cargo transport companies faced many difficulties due to the restrictive measures, including quarantining of drivers. Numerous lorries with medications, meat and other "urgent cargo" headed for Slovenia remain stranded.

As drivers' body temperature is being measured in Germany and other countries, it is expected that "entire fleets will be waiting", said Pišek, who fears up to 50 lorries could end up in quarantine, with replacement drivers hard to find.

All this puts the supply of goods to the country at risk, he said, adding that the country needed to be well prepared for what would come in two or three weeks. Corridors need to be ready, all paperwork needs to be prepared and enough drivers on secured.

One of the problems is how to extend work permits to foreign drivers who work for Slovenian companies as administrative units deal only with the most urgent matters.

Pišek noted that Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic last night released cargo traffic, while the situation was worse in Serbia, as drivers needed to fill various forms and wait to be tested.

Meanwhile, there are no more complications in Croatia, and the neighbouring country is thinking about securing corridors to bring lorries through its territory.

© STA, 2020