Uncoordinated COVID-19 border restrictions cause chaos in Latin America
Christophe Richard (IRU)
Wed, 04/28/2021 – 17:08
In response to a new surge of COVID-19 infections in Latin America, governments have implemented a patchwork of uncoordinated measures with a disastrous impact on the trucking industry, endangering the supply chains that it underpins.
Argentina and Chile have announced a requirement for foreign truck drivers to present a negative PCR test from the last 72 hours when entering the country. Operators are footing the bill, which comes to about USD 100 per test. The high price of tests, and the need for several tests over the course of a single journey can lead to insurmountable costs for many operators.
This is not the first time uncoordinated COVID-19 measures have led to serious issues for transport operators in the region. In April and May last year, Costa Rica closed its borders to Nicaragua and Panama, stranding about 1,200 trucks and commercial drivers from several countries and causing supply chains to grind to a halt.
Whether on borders or testing requirements, governments need to take coordinated action to keep goods moving while keeping drivers and the communities they serve safe. Borders must be kept open to commercial vehicles to avoid shortages of essential goods. The cost of testing drivers should be borne by the government or by the importers or owners of the cargo, rather than adding extra costs for an industry that has already been hit hard by the pandemic.
Latin American governments should also follow the advice of UN Secretary-General António Guterres and implement existing trade facilitation tools, like the TIR system and the digital eTIR, to ensure the smooth flow of goods across their borders.
“Innovative tools such as UN eTIR/eCMR systems and other tools that allow to exchange electronic information without physical contact and facilitate the flow of goods across borders should be used,” said António Guterres.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing yet another example of how uncoordinated government measures can disrupt supply chains. IRU is continuing to call for greater coordination and wider implementation of the TIR system to allow road transport to keep goods moving and drive economic recovery from the pandemic,” said Umberto de Pretto, IRU Secretary General.
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Taxis giving crucial support to most vulnerable for COVID-19 vaccination
Christophe Richard (IRU)
Thu, 04/22/2021 – 16:30
Taxis are continuing to show solidarity with the communities they serve after over a year on the front line of the fight against the pandemic. With vaccination efforts advancing, taxi drivers are once again stepping up to transport the most vulnerable members of our communities.
In Berlin, Germany, thousands of free taxi rides to and from vaccination centres have been offered to those aged 80 and over. The city’s taxi association has worked with local authorities to launch the initiative, which has been highly successful. “We have already taken around seven thousand people to vaccination centres,” said Hermann Waldner, who heads up the Berlin taxi association, part of IRU member BZP.
IRU associate member Free Now is offering free rides worth a total of EUR 1 million to passengers travelling to and from vaccination centres in the EU cities served by the app. The initiative is part of Free Now’s strategy to support local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Belgium, Brussels taxis are partnering with municipal authorities to offer an accessible service to the elderly and those with reduced mobility who would struggle to reach vaccination centres otherwise.
Over-80s travelling to receive COVID-19 vaccines are also being offered free rides in Rome, Italy.
These are just a few examples of how taxi operators are playing their crucial role as essential workers. But they are often not recognised as such and commercial drivers are not included in priority groups for vaccination.
IRU continues to call on governments to provide better support to the road transport industry, a key element of urban mobility networks, including professional drivers in vaccination plans in line with their vital contribution throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
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