American truckers may be struggling to find safe overnight parking, but hundreds of their counterparts in war-torn Ukraine are stranded at the Polish border. After a month-long flare-up that put trucker drivers at odds, Polish cargo haulers shut the border down.
Poland’s officials have been calling on the EU to implement and enforce permitting and border-crossing limits. Riled freight carriers and owner-operators contend Ukrainian operations have gained an unfair advantage in terms of cost, since regulations were relaxed at the outset of the war with Russia.
“We will very strongly and unequivocally demand the restoration of transport permits for Ukrainian drivers,” Ukraine Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reportedly said.
Shuttering international crossing locations since Nov. 6 has left Ukrainian drivers in limbo. In Korczowa, upwards of 100 truck drivers have been forced to brave harsh winter conditions, waiting for the stand-off to be resolved.
“I didn’t expect to be stuck here this long. All our supplies are running out. Thank God there’s still water, but if it gets even more frosty, there will be no water at all,” a 56-year-old truck driver identified as Yurii reportedly said. “This is our life now.”
Negotiations between Ukraine, Poland, and the EU officials who waived permits when war broke out have yet to find a permanent solution. A handful of semi-trucks are being allowed through, but no consistent system appears to be in place. Polish truckers recently started slow-walking crossings, limiting the number to seven per hour. Many Ukraine truckers abandoned Korczowa after waiting for two weeks. Even as the impasse eases, drivers wait about 10 days before being allowed through blockades.
It may sound bizarre, but working truckers are now receiving humanitarian aid due to food and water shortages. Volunteers are transporting van loads of necessities to a nearby parking lot. At no fault of their own, the lengthy delays are prompting commercial drivers to rely on the 5,000 bowls of sour rye soup being distributed by the World Central Kitchen at checkpoints.
“It’s helping in getting on with the police, to call the local authorities, to bring wood for heating or water,” Serhii Vanat, a volunteer at the border, reportedly said. “We’re getting by somehow. There’s just no proper toilet, no place to take care of hygiene.”
Some blockaded truckers expressed disbelief at the situation, noting that neighboring countries had previously maintained cooperative relations. One went on the record stating the stalemate must be the work of “Russian propaganda.”