Bulgarian lorry drivers once again blocked the main two checkpoints on the border with Turkey on May 16, the second time in eight days that haulage firms have protested against what they describe as discriminatory policies by Turkish authorities.
The line of lorries at the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint, on the Bulgarian side of the border, was 2.5km long and the line on the Bulgarian side at Lessovo checkpoint was 3.5km long, Focus news agency reported, quoting a border police spokesperson.
There was no blockage at Malko Turnovo checkpoint, which is not normally used for cargo traffic, the report said.
The drivers had food and water and expected more drivers to join their ranks, according to Petko Angelov, deputy chairperson of one cargo industry association, quoted by Focus.
Bulgarian hauling industry associations have said that the reason for the blockade were discriminatory policies targeting Bulgarian drivers. According to the industry groups, these included restrictions on entering the country – for example, a lorry carrying goods from Germany could enter Turkey only eight days after leaving its point of origin, which resulted in lorries often spending days at the Turkish border before being allowed into the country.
The industry groups have claimed to had obtained an internal directive of the Turkish customs authority, which ordered “extra checks” of Bulgarian lorries, causing further delays of shipments. The goal of the regulations was to help Turkey’s cargo hauling industry by making it more difficult for Bulgarian firms to handle transportation of goods from and to Turkey, the lobby groups said.
On May 9, drivers blocked traffic for seven hours, which resulted in a queue of hundreds of lorries on both sides of the border. Cars, however, were allowed to pass unhindered.