Syrian truck drivers left without work after Turkish drivers are allowed to cross border

Turkish commercial trucks entering Syrian territory through the Bab al-Salama crossing- 11 June 2021 (Enab Baladi-Walid Othman)

Turkish commercial trucks entering Syrian territory through the Bab al-Salama crossing- 11 June 2021 (Enab Baladi-Walid Othman)

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Northern Aleppo countryside – Walid Othman

Abdul Qadir Assaf, 55 years old, told Enab Baladi that his truck used to be the sole source of income for his family. However, he had to sell it after it became the only way to stop his accumulating debts amid increasing living costs in the northern countryside of Aleppo. 

Assaf sold his truck, which he used to transport goods from Turkey to northern Syria through the Turkish-Syrian border crossings, because Turkish trucks, which were allowed to enter the area to unload their cargo in northern Syria’s warehouses, adversely affected their work. 

The road transport sector contributes significantly to improving the living standards and providing dozens of job opportunities. However, according to Assaf, the suspension of this sector from work poses a “disaster” for Syrian truck drivers.

Syrians working in the road transport sector have been walloped; many have lost their jobs. Consequently, this sparked anger among them, calling for a general strike to prevent Turkish trucks from entering Syrian territory to transport and unload goods.  

A measure that increases unemployment

According to the driver, the Bab al-Salama crossing administration collected the annual fees imposed on registered trucks operating inside the crossing a few days before their work was stopped.

In March 2019, the Bab al-Salama border crossing administration announced that Turkish commercial trucks laden with goods would be allowed to enter Syrian territory to transport and exchange goods.

The border crossings between the northern countryside of Aleppo and Turkey provide job opportunities for hundreds of workers in inbound and outbound logistics and those who work in truck maintenance and repair and the sale of parts needed for repairing trucks. 

No binding decisions, but it is merchants’ preference

 The administration of border crossings in the northern countryside of Aleppo is actually affiliated to the Ministry of Finance and Economy of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG). 

 The SIG’s Minister of Finance and Economy, Abdel Hakim al-Masry, points out that no decision or law prevents the entry of Syrian commercial vehicles to the border crossings and commercial squares. However, after the Turkish authorities allowed Turkish trucks to cross into Syria’s Aleppo governorate through the Bab al-Salama crossing, the Syrian drivers’ work has been hit dramatically. This is because many merchants in northern Syria prefer to transport their goods by Turkish trucks due to the “ damage of goods that occurred while unloading them from Turkish trucks to be loaded onto Syrian trucks inside the border crossing yard,” in addition to the low cost of Turkish trucks. 

The SIG is coordinating with the Turkish side to study the entry of Syrian trucks into Turkish territory, according to al-Masry, in order to open the door for the export of commercial goods and agricultural products from northern Syria to Turkey, in addition to bringing goods from factories and commercial areas to northern Syria. All these would raise the economic level of the region and provide additional job opportunities.

Northern Syria is connected with Turkey via five official crossing points. The SIG-linked Ministry of Finance and Economy supervises four of them: Jarabulus, al-Rai, Bab al-Salama in the city of Azaz, and al-Hammam in the Afrin region.

 

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