Ukraine has launched an effort to support truck drivers stuck for days at three Ukrainian-Polish cross-border points because of a strike by Polish truckers.
The infrastructure ministry along with the nations’ transport associations have assigned special staff to help the drivers, Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said Sunday on Facebook.
The lines of trucks waiting at the border stretch from 10 to 30 kilometers (6 to 18 miles), Kubrakov said.
Checkpoints at Yahodyn, Rava-Ruska and Krakivets now have direct coordinators on site whose key task is to provide drivers with food, water, medicine and fuel. Some 11,000 food kits have already been delivered.
“The ministry will facilitate the evacuation of drivers to the territory of Ukraine if such a need arises,” Kubrakov said.
Polish truckers began blocking the three crossings on Nov. 6, causing as many as 20,000 vehicles to get stuck on either side of the border.
Their action centers on what truckers from Poland and several eastern members of the European Union see as unfair competition from Ukraine created by concessions that followed Russia’s invasion in early 2022.
Members of the International Road Transport Union from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania plan to send a joint letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday calling for a review of an agreement, which expires in June.
Seven hours of negotiations between the infrastructure ministries of Ukraine and Poland and the EU on Nov. 16 failed to resolve the issue.
Slovak truckers joined Polish colleagues the same day and blocked a border crossing with Ukraine for an hour in solidarity.
Hungarian drivers are considering whether to do the same, as the deal “seriously distorts” the market and is causing irreversible damage to Hungarian and other EU haulers, Tivadar Arvay, chief secretary of MKFE, the largest road transport organization in Hungary and an IRU member, told Bloomberg.
Ukraine exports more than 70% of its agricultural produce, with truck transportation critically important for foodstuffs such meat and dairy, according to First Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskyi. Ukraine won’t be able to redirect all shipments to other crossings, he said.
Ukrainian deputy infrastructure minister Serhiy Derkach told Bloomberg at the start of protests, that the strike may hit so-called solidarity lanes, one of two options of Ukraine to transport agricultural exports apart from Danube River and Black Sea ports.