Tatarstan truckers stuck on border with Georgia and report interruptions in fruit and vegetables

How coronavirus has affected international cargo transportation and food deliveries to Russia

Tatarstan truckers stuck on border with Georgia and report interruptions in fruit and vegetables
Photo: elgezit.kg

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing countries to close their borders and suspend sea, rail, bus and air services. In most cases, the ban on movement does not apply to cargo transportation, but this week hundreds of Russian truckers still have had problems with the pass regime on the territory of Europe. Realnoe Vremya contacted representatives of transport companies and found out what the real scale of the “disaster” is and whether to expect problems with deliveries due to restrictions and food hype, arranged by Russians in stores against common sense, huge stocks of goods in warehouses and calls not to give in to panic.

“First coronavirus came, now they have snow”

More than 100 trucks from Bryansk Oblast, Smolensk Oblast and Moscow Oblast have stranded on the border of Italy and Slovenia due to coronavirus. The reason is that Slovenia has closed the entrance of all vehicles to its territory, except for cars with “native” state registration plates. Thus, truckers leaving Italy cannot leave the country.

Kaliningrad truckers have also faced the problem of leaving Italy. This time because of the closure of borders by Hungary. At the same time, there is still a way to escape — no one forbids you to leave Italy, for example, through Austria.

“Our cars are being at the exit from Georgia," Lilia Loboda, the director of Logistic-AutoCapital PLC, told Realnoe Vremya. “The border is closed for two reasons: first the coronavirus came, and now they have snow. Preliminary, this will take two weeks, but we hope that the border will be opened earlier, when the blockage is cleared.

According to the interlocutor of the publication, so far drivers are forced to literally live in cars, and when crossing the border, they will necessarily “pass a medical examination comparable to one carried out at airports”.

“There may be delays for certain categories”

Sergey Sotnikov, the executive director of Logistics and Road Transport of Tatarstan NPO, adds that there is nothing critical in the restrictions, since “downtime, which generally does not last long, is associated with the health of citizens”.

“Yes, on the one hand there are some disruptions at the border. I will say this: the country will not starve, the delivery of goods will be. There may be delays for certain categories. Well, we'll wait a week or two without bananas. There are no problems with priority products. Potatoes will not disappear — this will not happen. If we take food from abroad, it is mostly fruit. There are cars with equipment, construction materials, but this is not critical," says Sergey Sotnikov.

Alexander Lindval, the representative of the Association of International Road Carriers (ASMAP) in Kazan, also believes that a slight reduction or delay in deliveries is possible, but, according to him, the most necessary items “will definitely reach the consumer”.

“The stores just don't have enough workers”

Besides difficulties at the borders, another factor that can affect supplies may be the high demand for essential goods. This week, across Russia, there is a surge in purchasing activity: people (whether because of news about the coronavirus, or because of the collapse of the ruble) buy toilet paper, cereals and canned food for the future. It should be noted that the increase in demand for certain types of goods has been confirmed by the executive committee of Kazan.

“The monitoring of stores has shown that certain retail outlets are really missing some essential goods. According to the results of inspections in retail outlets, there was a partial absence of wheat flour, sugar, some cereals — buckwheat and rice — on the shelves. Also, a lack of disinfectants," said the chairman of the Committee of Consumer Market, Ruslan Fazylyanov. “An incomplete assortment of sunflower oil, canned fish and meat is being presented. As a rule, the reserves are replenished next day.

According to the representative of ASMAP in Kazan, Alexander Lindval, there is no panic on the part of carriers in this regard: “If they order — we deliver.”

“The hype in stores is quite selective. I think that it is more warmed up not even by the virus, but by the dollar. In my opinion, the stores simply do not have enough workers on display, on delivery from the bases (they can not dramatically increase the number of vehicles involved, drivers, loaders), but the demand for some products has increased significantly. But again, there is no panic. Everything is calm," Alexander Lindval states.

“There is no one type of pasta, but there are many alternatives”

In turn, Executive Director of Logistics and Road Transport of Tatarstan NPO Sergey Sotnikov believes that now “completely unnecessary hysteria “is rising around the coronavirus, which “pushes our citizens to some hasty actions”.

“There is nothing supernatural. I remember the early 1990s when there was really nothing to eat, and this was really serious. But then no one starved to death. What is happening now is no match. When industry was really stalled, there were no products, there were no contracts abroad at all... But now, yes, there may not be one type of pasta, but there are many alternatives. I don't see a reason to worry too much now," Sergey Sotnikov believes.

Lilia Loboda also made a call to exhale and calm down.

“Don't worry, everything will be fine, the cargo is being transported. We ourselves carry food and confirm the movement of goods. There is a slight decline, in particular of fruits and vegetables, since wholesale warehouses in Moscow and St. Petersburg are closed, which go to Tatarstan, but there are still shipments," the interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya assured.

By Lina Sarimova