The global lack of drivers leads to growing costs of transportation, says Girteka

he ongoing disruption in global supply chains, for which the consequences of the pandemic and unceasing geopolitical tensions are most widely to blame, brings out an old problem, which persisted in the ground transportation market for years. Yet, the consequences of such a problem were not obvious to everyone. At least, until now.

The prolonged issue of the general lack of workforce in the logistic sector came to the wider public attention only at the end of the last year, when the Brexit-related hurdles presented an extremely unattractive option for foreign drivers who were considering returning working to the UK from mainland Europe. Fuel shortage at the refilling stations, closed shops, and undelivered holiday parcels was not something that both the major media outlets as well as ordinary citizens on both sides of the Channel could easily ignore.

The Upply Ti IRU European road freight rates index for the European region after the 7th consecutive quarter of rate increases across Europe, broke an absolute record in Q1 2022 with the representatives citing rising cost pressures, supply and capacity disruptions, regulatory change, and geopolitical tensions, resulting in “a potent mix of rate drivers”. The Benchmark index rate rose by 4.3 points over the previous quarter, while it increased by 7.5 points over the first quarter of 2021.

Mindaugas Paulauskas, CEO of Girteka Transport, the largest asset-based transportation company in Europe, is not optimistic about the future either:

“Prices are about to increase even further. As we are still witnessing the rise of inflation, which is affecting all the sectors, general predictions, regarding the economic situation, unfortunately, cannot let us suggest any stabilization of costs in the nearest future. According to our calculations, we forecast even 30 % increase in a year from now.”

Published at the end of June, an International Road Transport Union (IRU) annual driver shortage survey shows unfilled commercial driver positions continue to increase at unprecedently frightening rates virtually in every region of the world. Surveying more than 1,500 commercial road transport operators in 25 countries in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, IRU found that truck driver shortages increased in all regions in 2021 – except Eurasia. Yet, in Europe, they jumped by an alarming 42% from 2020 to 2021, with open unfilled driver positions reaching 71,000 in Romania, 80,000 in both Poland and Germany, and 100,000 in the UK.

New challenges for the transportation industry arise while old problems keep piling up. However, while the logistic companies were doing everything, they can to attract new drivers, and – no less important – to keep their current personnel, already driving trucks forward, the introduction of the EU Mobility Package, which, despite being aimed at improving drivers’ working conditions, implied a significant increase in operational costs. 

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