The Secretary General of IRU visited the increasingly congested Sarp-Sarpi border between Georgia and Türkiye ahead of his opening remarks at the BSEC-URTA General Assembly today.
The Sarp-Sarpi border between Georgia and Türkiye, one of the three Turkish border crossings into Georgia, has recently been modernised. Its narrow customs area is limiting its daily capacity, but inefficient procedures and a lack of digitalisation are further slowing down border crossings.
During his visit to the Sarp-Sarpi border, IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto outlined several tried-and-tested solutions that can drastically improve the flow of goods.
“TIR Green Lanes, express lanes at border crossings, should be introduced at the Sarp-Sarpi between Türkiye and Georgia until eTIR, including eTIR express lanes, are implemented,” highlighted Umberto de Pretto.
“The use of TIR can significantly accelerate border crossings, reduce congestion and increase security,” he added.
Local customs authorities welcomed the idea of introducing TIR Green Lanes to accelerate border crossings.
Umberto de Pretto also pointed out how long waiting times negatively impact driver shortages, stressing that truck driver shortages will not be solved without accelerating border crossings and improving working conditions. He also underlined that border authorities should focus on how long it takes drivers to cross borders, rather than the duration of the customs procedures.
Other solutions include using the nearby Hopa customs office to decrease congestion at Sarp, as well as joint customs control practices at the Sarp-Sarpi border.
During the field visit with the customs authorities and a Black Sea Economic Cooperation-Union of Road Transport Associations (BSEC-URTA) delegation, Umberto de Pretto also honoured a driver by putting an IRU Grand Prix d’Honneur award sticker on his truck.
This year’s IRU Grand Prix d’Honneur was awarded to all professional bus, coach, taxi and truck drivers in the world for their bravery, courage and dedication in serving through the pandemic, conflicts and natural disasters, despite risks to their own lives.
BSEC-URTA General Assembly
IRU also gave the opening remarks at the BSEC-URTA General Assembly, hosted by IRU member the Georgian International Road Carriers Association (GIRCA) on this week.
Goods transport along routes that skirt the southern shores of the Black Sea, between the Caucasus and Europe, has grown in recent years. These routes are also part of the key Middle Corridor from China to Europe, following ancient Silk Road trading routes via Central Asia.
IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto said, “The Middle Corridor is becoming increasingly important. But inefficiencies are creating bottlenecks. Drivers are stranded for days at ports and borders, which is also creating huge financial burdens for traders and transport operators. With TIR Green Lanes and digitalisation, we can maximise the Middle Corridor’s potential.”
“Trade facilitation tools were developed for exactly this purpose: to streamline border operations. There is no good reason for drivers and goods to be stuck at borders for days. We also have digital instruments now at our disposal with eTIR and e-CMR. Their implementation should be a priority,” he added.
Establishing TIR Green Lanes is the fastest way to accelerate border crossings. TIR Green Lanes in Central Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council have significantly reduced border crossing times.
IRU also looks forward to seeing Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Greece join the BSEC permit system soon, and eventually expand it to include all BSEC countries.
“We need to increase BSEC permits, welcome new countries into the system, and fully digitalise it,” said Umberto de Pretto.
Based on the ever-growing success of BSEC permits, created 10 years ago, IRU and BSEC-URTA continue to advocate for increasing the number of permits and extending its geographical coverage.