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Northern Macedonia: Transporters face chaos at Bogorodica-Evzoni border crossing

The past two weeks at the Bogorodica-Evzoni border crossing have been filled with chaos, as trucks full of oil and other goods remain stranded for most of the day, according to a post on the local DENAR website.

According to the publication, this is due to the measures applied in Greece, according to which every professional driver must be tested when entering the country. An additional problem is caused by the very limited shift of work from 6.00 to 18.00, but more importantly by the fact that this is the only border crossing with Greece that remains open. This measure will remain in force until March 22, the article adds.

The problem, according to the report instead of “DENAR”, worsens on Wednesday and Thursday, as these days there is an influx of trucks, especially oil tankers, leading to miles of waiting lines at the border point. According to information cited by the publication by the Makam-trans Carriers Association, oil carriers suffered a 50% drop in turnover compared to the period when the truck could be headed to Thessaloniki to load, return to Skopje to unload the cargo and to return again to Thessaloniki. Now, carriers say this is not possible. In addition, they report that if they do not arrive in Thessaloniki by 11am to pick up a number for loading the goods from the refinery, the vehicle remains blocked and may return the next day. If this measure in Greece is extended and does not expire on March 22, according to information, oil reserves and oil derivatives in Northern Macedonia could be endangered, the publication concludes.

“In other consumer goods, a limited turnover of 30-50% has been registered. Transportation costs of all carriers have increased due to the long delay at the border crossing, but also due to the change of the truck route, as in any case the transporters drive their vehicles to Promachonas (Bulgaria-Greece border crossing) in for avoid queues at the Evzoni crossing point, given that the crossing there operates 24/7 and the tests are carried out by random sampling and not for every driver. An additional problem is the purchase of a QR code which is mandatory for everyone in order to enter Greece; while carriers used to be able to request a QR code from a profile for each vehicle they owned, now they have to open a profile for each driver in order for them to register them, otherwise they will not be able to obtain kodin. An additional problem lies in the fact that, if the vehicle has a dual crew, approval can only be given for one and not for the second driver. “This puts an additional burden on carriers with a larger number of vehicles from an administrative point of view,” says Makam-trans.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications said the matter is outside its jurisdiction. According to the report from “DENAR”, he informed that his responsibilities relate only to the issuance of permits necessary for the work of carriers. The Customs Administration of Northern Macedonia announced that, immediately after the announcement of the measure for the restricted entry of trucks in the territory of the southern neighbor, they responded and informed the information about the difficulties in the passage of their trucks. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also requested clarifications on the situation and the problem escalated to the level of the CEFTA countries for which a meeting was held, while the European Commission was also informed.

“Measures for restricted entry of persons are part of the measures taken by the southern neighbor to address the pandemic, which include limited opening hours of border crossings between 06: 00-18: 00 every day (07: 00-19: 00 Greek time), published in detail in the Official Government Gazette of the country. The measure will remain in force until March 23 of this year, “confirmed Customs.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded immediately from day one at all levels: in the context of the daily communication of our Embassy in Athens, directly between the competent Directorates in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, while Minister Osmani also had a direct contact with Minister Dendias on this topic. In response to ongoing contacts, the restriction quota was significantly increased for 400 people, namely for vehicles, trucks and tankers. Despite the still visible challenges, the situation improved significantly. Currently, the epidemiological situation in Greece is complicated due to the fact that the Greek government has introduced additional restrictions within the country. “Both Ministries are closely monitoring the situation and communication channels have been opened, and thus the possibilities for an even more significant increase in the quota are being considered as soon as conditions allow,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Northern Macedonia announced.

Makam-trans reports that the quickest solution to normalize the situation in Evzoni is to operate at the border crossing 24/7, employing more staff in groups testing drivers. The carriers note that they were in contact with all the competent authorities in the country from the beginning, noting that they communicated their response to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Customs Administration, who are in constant coordination with the CEFTA Secretariat, and the Secretariat of the Carrier Community, from where they report that the feedback was also sent to the Greek government. Carriers from Macedonia (sic) have already had a meeting with the representatives of the EU Delegation in Skopje and the result of the meeting was that the latter will support the operation of the so-called green corridors for faster flow at the border crossings. However, the final decision is left to the competent authorities in Greece, the article concludes.

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