“Currently, I had to reduce my fleet by half. I no longer had the means to pay some taxes and transport fees or levies for employees for whom I do not have a job,” Stanisław Necek describes his situation at the barrier at the border crossing in Korczow.
He has been engaged in the international transport of goods for 34 years. Now it is being pushed out of the market by eastern competition.
“In general, the situation for us, Polish freight forwarders, is difficult. Due to uncontrolled competition from the east. It was created in the last two years and has largely taken over our market oriented towards the transport of goods to the east. Their current rates and operating costs are much lower than ours, which are regulated by EU regulations. For example, we have to comply with mobile packages,” he adds He won’t.
For example, mobility packages regulate drivers’ pay, their maximum driving time, determine how drivers are posted across borders and ensure fair competition.
The European Union adopted these packages after cheaper companies from the eastern part of the Union began to take over the Western European freight market. Among them were also the Polish ones.
“Ukraine and Poland used to have a mutual agreement on how many trucks could cross the common border each year. But the European Union canceled these permits after the start of the war, and Ukraine thus gained access to the market for the transportation of goods not only in Poland, but throughout the Union. And they can also transport goods between places in the same country. At the same time, we are punished for cabotage, we are very restricted elsewhere,” he describes He won’t.
Before the war, 160,000 trucks from Ukraine and 160,000 trucks from Poland had permission to cross the Polish-Ukrainian border. This year, however, 800,000 Ukrainian trucks have already crossed the border.
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Polish carriers also complain about unequal conditions when transporting goods to Ukraine. Their reservations concern the electronic queue, which the driver must log into when crossing into Ukraine. But it takes ten or more days to be processed.
While the journey to Kyiv takes about two days, the rest must be spent in the parking lot. However, Ukrainians can register in the system even before the trip begins.
Since November 6, entrepreneurs have been blocking the terminals in Dorohusko, Hrebennem and Korczowe in the transport of goods.
“Ukrainians are not yet in the Union, so why should they transport goods in the Union? We want the situation to return to the state before the war, when the transporter had to obtain a permit and these permits were limited in quantity,” Stanisław Necek explains one of the demands of the Committee for the Defense of Transporters and Transport Workers.
At the same time, he reiterates that there is still a need to support Ukraine in its defense against the attacking Russia.
Entrepreneurs in the transport of goods have been blocking the terminals in Dorohusko, Hrebennem and Korczowe since January 6.
Protesters in Korczowe were joined on Wednesday by Polish farmers acting as the Stolen Countryside community. They already blocked border crossings in the spring. At that time, they also carried out sudden short blockades in large cities, for example Warsaw or Szczecin.
“The situation drove us to protest. The influx of Ukrainian corn, as well as other crops, and the purchase prices of our production have led to the fact that we simply cannot cope anymore. The revenues will no longer cover the costs,” says Alina Radecká from the Subcarpathian Chamber of Agriculture.
Together with other peasants in the area, she came to support Polish entrepreneurs in road transport. “We take out loans to keep our family businesses going, but the government simply doesn’t help us,” explains Radecká.
The Radecká family owns 150 hectares of land. But he claims that the costs of seeds and fertilizers are increasing and he doesn’t know what to do with his relatives. He sees the last year as the most difficult, because at the same time the purchase of crops is also hampered. Warehouses are full.
Grain too cheap?
Farmers’ protests began due to the purchase of cheap Ukrainian grain. Due to the blockade of the Black Sea Corridors, it was supposed to go through Europe to the ports and then by ship to Asia and Africa.
But it ended up in warehouses, among others in Poland, and reduced the purchase price of domestic grain. The protests lasted until the adoption of the European Union embargo on the purchase of crops. Only their transportation was allowed.
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Only two Ukrainian trucks per hour are allowed to pass through Korczowe. A police car accompanies them to the barrier. Only then will protesting carriers in yellow vests untie the tape and remove the cone. Another hundreds of truck drivers have to wait in a line that is around ten kilometers long.
Among those waiting is Oleg, who returned to Ukraine after the start of the war. He previously worked for a European international shipping company.
“I’m on the list in order 805. I arrived yesterday. I transport the gas we need in Ukraine in a tanker. And now I’m standing on the verge. And it’s dangerous. Someone drives by, throws a butt, and it can bang,” he describes.
Like other drivers, Oleg goes to Biedronki for food. But he is said to be slowly running out of money. There is no toilet for Ukrainian drivers. He goes to the stream and to the forest. You can feel it when the wind blows.
Blockade until December
Polish carriers have permission to block the terminal in Korczowe until December 6. If Poland and Ukraine do not find a solution acceptable to them, they can block the terminal in Hrebenne until January 6.
“At the moment, the convoy of detained trucks stretches as far as Dąbrowa Tomaszowska, which is a village about 30 kilometers from the border crossing itself,” Małgorzata Pawłowska, spokesperson of the Tomaszow Lubelski District Police Command, presents the situation.
Transporters in Hrebenne are blocking the passage of trucks in both directions. They send only four trucks per hour to Ukraine, five to Poland.
“There are increased police patrols in the area due to the protest. Our unit was reinforced by units from all over the country. We supervise safety and order, but also transport. Roads and intersections must remain passable,” he says Pawłowska.
Next week, transporters together with farmers also want to block the terminal in Medyca near Přemyšl. This will block all Polish-Ukrainian road crossings for trucks. The exception will continue to apply to humanitarian and military convoys and to the transport of live animals.
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