Turkish truckers face transit issues in Austria

Turkish truckers face transit issues in Austria

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
Turkish truckers face transit issues in Austria

Turkish transporters have been struggling while passing Austria since the closure of a major highway in the country in December 2012. AA Photo

Hundreds of Turkish trucks are being forced to wait in Trieste for transport trains through Austria due to a combination of bad weather and the paltry number of permits Vienna gives to Turkish trucks, Turkey’s leading road transport association said on Feb. 19.

Most of the Turkish transport trucks will have to use the rolling highway systems in the Italian harbor city, which involves conveying the road trucks by rail in order to bypass the Austrian practice of allowing only 15,000 road transit permits per year to Turkish transport trucks.

Around 120,000 Turkish trucks per year enter Central and Northern European countries, including Turkey’s number-one trading partner, Germany, through Austria, but the latter only grants 15,000 road transit permits to Turkish transport trucks.

The regular procedure is for trucks to arrive in Trieste on ferries from Turkey and wait for 12 hours at the harbor before being loaded onto wagons.

In a written statement, Turkey’s International Transport Companies Association (UND) reiterated a 2007 agreement between Austria and Turkey, according to which Austria is obliged to grant road transit permits for trucks that wait for more than 12 hours due to compelling reasons.

Trade issues

The UND also said Turkish truck drivers staged a protest over the delays in the railroad transportation of their trucks.

In the statement, UND’s CEO, Fatih Şener, said the Austrian practice of only granting 15,000 transit permits adversely affected Turkey’s trading capabilities with Central and Northern European countries.

Turkish truck drivers have insisted they still have problems gaining access to Turkey’s leading European markets, namely Germany and France, through Austria, claiming Austria has been “unfairly restricting” their passage by declining to offer alternative routes after one of its major highways was closed for almost half a year.

But Austrian officials said they had offered adequate alternatives and good opportunities for Turkish transporters on the way to Europe.

Earlier this month, Turkey had a transport row with neighboring Bulgaria when both countries closed their borders after Sofia approved only 5,000 of the 125,000 transit permits requested by Turkish trucks at the beginning of the year.

The row ended last month when Turkish Transport Minister Lütfi Elvan announced that Bulgaria had issued around 100,000 passes.

To avoid major damage from the dispute, Turkish exporters immediately had turned to alternative routes to transport Turkish goods to Europe.

Some of the goods were transported through the İpsala customs gate between Turkey and Greece, with 250 trucks crossing there in a day, he said.

However, the high volume at İpsala caused 16-kilometer-long queues to form at the gate, forcing transporters to consider tertiary options.

Transporters have subsequently begun additional Ro-Ro journeys from Istanbul to the Italian port of Trieste.

Sector representatives had also said in talks with Romanian and Greek authorities to create two new routes, including Ro-Ro journeys between Istanbul and the Romanian port of Costanza and a road link between Istanbul and Thessaloniki before goods would be loaded onto Ro-Ro ships to be transported to Trieste.