(MENAFN) In a manifestation of growing discontent, truck drivers in Slovakia temporarily blocked a key border crossing with Ukraine, intensifying their demands for protection against what they perceive as unfair competition from Ukrainian haulers. The protest, orchestrated by the Union of Auto Transporters (UNAS), echoes the sentiments of Polish truckers and revolves around their shared grievances against the European Union leadership's decision to suspend permits for Ukrainian drivers. The suspension is part of a broader set of measures aimed at economically supporting Kiev in its ongoing conflict with Russia.
The demonstration, centered at the Vysne Nemecke-Uzhgorod checkpoint, sought to express solidarity with Polish truckers and draw attention to what the protesters argue is a lack of adherence by Ukrainian drivers to European Union transport regulations. The protesters contend that Ukrainian drivers, freed from the limitations imposed by the permit system, are able to undercut their Polish and Slovak counterparts, resulting in what they deem to be an unfair advantage.
Previously, a controlled number of permits were issued annually, providing a regulatory framework that mitigated competitive pressures. The European Union's decision to suspend this system has triggered concerns among truckers who feel that Ukrainian drivers are not subject to the same rules and standards as European Union transport firms.
UNAS Chairman Stanislav Skala, addressing the media during the protest, emphasized the group's objective to support not only their Polish colleagues but all carriers within the European Union. Skala called on the European Commission to promptly reinstate transportation permits for Ukrainian vehicles to restore a level playing field.
Expressing their discontent, Skala warned that if the situation remains unchanged within the next seven days, the UNAS might escalate their protest to a more enduring blockade akin to the one initiated in Poland earlier in November. The reverberations of the Polish blockade have already affected Slovakia, causing disruptions as drivers rerouted their trips. Reports from the Slovakian side of the border described a queue of trucks waiting for checks stretching up to 25 kilometers. With border officials capable of processing only around 170 vehicles per day, the presence of approximately 800 mostly Ukrainian trucks has exacerbated the situation, adding strain to an already tense cross-border scenario.
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