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Ministry of Transport and Communications: transport sector to face significant labour challenges without acceleration of consular and visa procedures

Date

2022 06 23

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The working group for the issues of increasing the competitiveness of the road transport sector and co-operation in the field of road transport meeting at the Ministry of Transport and Communications notes that as the transport sector experiences severe labour shortages, it may face significant challenges in attracting labour to Lithuania without speeding up consular services and visa procedures for drivers from third countries.

 

“The road transport sector is going through a rough patch – new legal acts of the European Union regulating professional transport operator activities have entered into force, and about 10.5 thousand Ukrainian drivers employed in Lithuanian companies due to the war in their country have returned to Ukraine. The issue of visas for Belarusian drivers has been suspended, so the possibility of attracting third-country drivers (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and other countries in the region) and the issuance of national and Schengen visas to drivers from this region remain a particularly important issue. Immediate and optimal solutions are needed, which would allow faster attraction of qualified labour force to the Lithuanian market, which, in turn, could ensure the competitiveness of Lithuanian road transport,” said Julius Skačkauskas, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, chairing the working group.

 

Some 65 thousand licensed trucks are registered in Lithuania, while the sector employs about 80 thousand truck drivers. The share of freight road transport export per driver per year is about 53 thousand euros, i.e., the share of one truck driver in the country’s GDP.

 

With the imposition of sanctions by the European Union on Russia and Belarus and the restriction of the entry of trucks registered in these countries into the European Union, the volume of shipments for transport operators has increased. The severe shortage of drivers results in significant losses and increased freight costs and time. It is estimated that if the situation does not change, the Lithuanian transport sector may experience a shortage of between 15 and 19 thousand drivers this year. In the face of labour shortage, the freight transport fleet will not be expanded either, and planned acquisitions and investments will be suspended. This would lead to a contraction of the Lithuanian road transport sector and a decrease in the country’s GDP.

 

According to the Deputy Minister, in the absence of drivers, urgent measures are needed to speed up consular services and visa procedures, which would enable the attraction of truck drivers from the Central Asian region. At the initiative of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, a meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of the Interior and the Migration Department will be organised at the end of June.