To keep road transport networks functioning, the International Road Transport Union (IRU) is calling on governments and authorities, as well as banks and financial institutions, for immediate and concerted action to help ease the burden of the crisis on operators and ensure the flow of goods.
“Governments must look beyond their individual interests and take a holistic approach under coordinated action from our global institutions,” IRU Secretary General, Umberto de Pretto said. “This is a global crisis which requires global solutions.”
It is vital for the road transport sector to maintain supply chains, especially for essentials such as food and medical items, in the safest way possible for transport workers and citizens with considering the latest relevant government guidelines.
Having reached out to over 30 key international organisations and institutions worldwide, IRU says, their calls remain largely unanswered.
“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,” de Pretto said.
In its latest updated analysis, IRU has suggested few actions that require immediate global coordination to help the road transport industry continue on its mission of delivering essentials.
- Harmonising safety standards and conditions for drivers
Today, drivers returning from international trips are often put in forced 14-day long quarantines, even if they don’t present symptoms. These measures need to be replaced with access to free testing and hygiene tools, to make sure drivers are able to continue working safely to keep delivering goods in time.
- Keeping borders moving – no systematic checks on Covid-19
There is a patchwork of individual national approaches to border operations. Some countries have closed their borders completely to road freight; some 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 stop systematic controls which lead to goods being stuck in long queues.
- Helping transport companies – especially SMEs
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)– often family run – are the backbone of road transport across the globe, moving goods and people and representing up to 90% of the industry. These SMEs must receive financial aid in the first place, to avoid imminent bankruptcies and lasting economic impacts on supply and mobility chains.
Many SMEs are likely to go bankrupt by the time the pandemic ends, unless they receive immediate financial support without excessive bureaucracy. Passenger transport companies are closing down completely, and more and more goods transport companies will also not survive the longer the pandemic continues.
A glimmer of hope
Some effective measures at a regional or national level are bearing fruit, says IRU. For instance, China has removed all road tolls across the country for all vehicles, until the pandemic ends. It has also put SMEs 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, IRU expects these measures to be scaled globally, so that the sector can survive and continue delivering essential goods to the world’s population.
IRU and its member networks continue to monitor the situation in regions and across borders, advising transport companies on dealing with the pandemic and its impacts. IRU has implemented crisis and continuity plans, including preventive measures to protect staff.