Truckers standing ground at borders

Hundreds of truck drivers yesterday blocked border crossings in northern Greece for a second day, calling on authorities to intensify inspections on unlicensed transport companies and crack down on illegal immigrants sneaking onto their vehicles. Drivers kept their trucks parked at the crossings of Evzones and Promachonas, at the borders with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria respectively, hindering the movement of commercial goods. A Serres prosecutor tried to intervene to stop the blockade at Evzones but truckers refused to budge. Meanwhile hundreds of truckers continued with a blockade at the northwestern port of Igoumenitsa. The union representing the protesters said it wanted authorities to step up checks on trucks crossing into Greece, particularly from Balkan states like Moldova. It also demands the implementation of measures to ensure that Greek truckers are not penalized when would-be migrants are found hiding in their vehicles. Truckers protesting at the central port of Patras lifted their blockade yesterday but have threatened to reimpose it today. They claim to have a particular problem with would-be migrants sneaking onto their trucks in a bid to be smuggled onto ferries heading to Western Europe. The ongoing action prompted exporters to write a letter to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, and to the Transport, Interior and Macedonia-Thrace ministries, complaining that the blockades would seriously hurt the country’s exporting firms. Similar grievances had been aired last month when protesting farmers also blocked border crossings. The Transport Ministry said that it had already taken steps to curb unlicensed trucking and was evaluating ways to prevent migrants sneaking onto trucks.

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