GRODNO, 1 December (BelTA) – Truckers and shipping companies are losing money as trucks spend many days waiting for their turn to cross Belarus' border with the European Union. Disrupted deliveries may also affect regular consumers, drivers of the semi-trailer trucks, which have been stuck in queues at the Belarus-EU border for days, told BelTA.
Belarusian border checkpoints at the European Union border are still plagued with vehicle queues. Authorities on the European side have been unable to fully honor bilateral agreements regarding truck passage. Poland's unilateral closure of the border checkpoint Kuznica Bialostocka (the Bruzgi checkpoint on the Belarusian side of the border) on 9 November made the situation even worse.
Some of the truck traffic went from the Bruzgi checkpoint to the Berestovitsa checkpoint 60km to the south of Bruzgi. Over 600 semi-trucks are lining up at the Berestovitsa checkpoint now. The last truck in this queue was parked 16km away from the entrance to the Berestovitsa checkpoint at noon on 1 December.
One of the drivers at the end of the queue said: “I can't even imagine how long I will have to stay here.” He said he does not recall such long queues.
Another driver said: “I've been in the queue for over 24 hours already. I moved for a couple of kilometers during this time. It is certainly difficult to waste time waiting like this.” His truck is carrying Belarusian glass to a Polish client. He said he could make two trips in one week in the past. Even one trip does not look feasible now. “Who will benefit from it?” he wondered.
Two other drivers have spent over 48 hours in the queue. They asked the reporters when the situation will resolve. “Listen! We read the news. We know about problems with the refugees. Something needs to be done. We are not in a good position either. Conditions for us to wait for the passage in comfort are scarce,” another driver of a truck with Polish vehicle plates noted. He said the truck queue had attracted some attention. For instance, a composting toilet was placed at a parking lot. Some local business now delivers hot lunches for Br10 per meal. “The lunches seem rather good,” the driver noted.
The driver of a semi-truck parked within hundreds of meters from the entrance to the Berestovitsa checkpoint said: “We've been here since Saturday. Is it long? Calculate it yourself. In the past I could make two trips from Russia or Belarus to Europe every month and spend one week home. Now I spend this week in the queue. I hope I will get across today.”
“The truck queue is not a problem,” other drivers noted. “We have no complaints about Belarusian agencies. They clear us fast while we can get stuck on the Polish side for a while. Sometimes a driver spends one hour, two hours, three hours at a window where there is no clerk. Everyone gets nervous, a queue forms up, and then a sleepy clerk appears. The clerk starts working while his colleague goes away to rest.”
Another trucker pitched in: “I carry parts for assembling vehicles from Europe to Russia. All the delivery schedules are disrupted due to these delays. The problem results in vehicle assembly delays and inflated prices for end products. Primarily customers will be affected.”
“And not only the vehicles are the problem. We lose more than time in these queues. When the truck is idle, the driver does not earn much and the shipping company loses money as well. We may have a way to recover these losses. Trucking costs in Europe are now on the rise. But it means that prices for the goods we deliver will be raised as well,” another trucker opined. He pointed out that vehicles with different cargoes and from different countries are in the queue but all of them have the same problems. The man is convinced it is necessary to resolve the problems as soon as possible. The intensity of transportation gets higher ahead of the new year, which means problems with the border queues may become even worse.
Representatives of the State Border Committee of Belarus noted that the Belarusian side clears trucks without delays at every border. European border checkpoints only cleared 75% of the agreed number of trucks in the last 24 hours.