Freight News, Logistics, Road

COVID-19 bottlenecks delay freight – updated

[ March 24, 2020   //   ]

With delays at the EU’s internal borders making an unwelcome return during the covid-19 crisis, the Freight Transport Association is urging all member states to act upon the EU guidelines on green lanes for goods at borders.  Many logistics operators have encountered significant delays at the EU’s internal borders.

Head of European and global policy at FTA, Pauline Bastidon, said: “Green lanes at borders are intended to ensure freight flows freely to and from different countries, but many operators have faced, and are still facing delays of up to 14 hours at the EU’s internal borders.  Currently, crossing the border should take no more than 15 minutes, as specified in the EU’s guidelines, and on behalf of our members and their partners across Europe, we are urging member states to facilitate the movement of vehicles to protect supply chains and the delivery of essential goods.

“While we are all facing such an extraordinary trading environment, procedures at green lane border crossings should be minimised and streamlined to what is strictly necessary.  We are urging EU member states to ensure checks and screening can be carried out without the need for drivers to leave their vehicles, and they should not be asked to produce any documentation except ID, driver’s licence and, if necessary, a letter from the employer, as specified in the EU guidelines.  Electronic submission and display of documents should be accepted.”

Ms Bastidon  said there is also no need to quarantine drivers and other workers who are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19: “Quarantining workers at borders without reason is simply placing the whole supply chain under even greater threat.  European logistics as a whole is facing a significant shortage of workers, particularly among drivers, and the industry which keeps the economy working efficiently simply cannot afford to sustain the gaps in the workforce which these unnecessary delays are causing.   At present, society is relying on logistics to deliver – more now than at any other time – but our operators are being hampered by unnecessary checks and red tape.”

Ms Bastidon is also urging EU member states to temporarily suspend all road access restrictions currently in place in their territories.

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) said that delays have been caused by the authorities requesting additional forms and/or health certificates from drivers.

It adds that the slowdown of the economy has also affected freight transport, putting many operators at serious risk. Without swift financial support, very few road transporters will remain operational once the restrictive measures have been lifted, it says.