Freight News, Road

Road haulage pleas go unheeded

[ March 27, 2020   //   ]

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) is complaining that its global call for immediate and concerted action by governments and organisations to ensure that goods keep moving have largely gone unanswered.

IRU secretary general, Umberto de Pretto, said: “We are extremely concerned about the lack of coordination and individual approaches put in place by governments worldwide. The global community can only deal with this pandemic if it acts together.”

It has repeated its plea for harmonised safety standards and conditions for drivers; those returning from international trips are often put in forced 14-day long quarantine, even if they don’t present symptoms. This should be replaced with access to free testing and hygiene tools, to make sure drivers are able to continue working safely.

There is a patchwork of individual national approaches to border operations. Some countries have even closed their borders completely to road freight, others have closed them to drivers of certain nationalities, regardless of where the truck has come from.

Countries need to keep their borders open, harmonise inspection and health procedures based on international standards, and put a stop to systematic controls which lead to goods being stuck in long queues.

It also wants small and medium sized road transport enterprises to receive financial aid, to avoid imminent bankruptcies. Many firms are likely to go bankrupt by the time the pandemic ends, unless they receive immediate support without excessive bureaucracy.

More encouragingly IRU adds: “We are starting to see some effective measures at a regional or national level; for example China has removed all road tolls across the country for all vehicles, until the pandemic ends. It has also put smaller firms tasked with transporting essential goods and daily necessities as the top priority for financial aid.”

Governments in North America have coordinated their border policies allowing only commercial vehicles or others with essential needs to cross. The EU has released guidelines on green express lanes for trucks, and some countries are lifting driving bans and delivery restrictions.

However, these measures need to be scaled globally.

“Governments must look beyond their individual interests and take a holistic approach under coordinated action from our global institutions,” added Mr de Pretto. “This is a global crisis which requires global solutions.”