Syrian truckers fear for jobs as Turkish drivers cross border
Turkey has reopened the Bab al-Salam/Oncupinar border crossing with Syria to Turkish truck traffic, effectively cutting half a workday off some truckers’ delivery times. Turkish trucks had not entered Syria through the gate for nearly eight years for security reasons following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.
On March 5, Turkish authorities gave trucks laden with goods the green light to cross into Syria’s Aleppo province via the Bab al-Salam/Oncupinar crossing. Their cargoes now can be driven through the Syrian area controlled by the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA). Previously, once Turkish trucks reached the crossing, their goods were transferred onto Syrian trucks.
Turkey’s official news provider, Anadolu Agency, reported that about 50 Turkish trucks crossed the border March 5.
Anadolu quoted a truck driver as saying, “We had [previously] unloaded trucks in the buffer zone to be loaded onto Syrian trucks, but now we cross the border and unload the trucks directly where we need to.”
The alternative to this unloading-loading process had been to use al-Rai crossing, which allowed trucks to enter Syria, but this then required a lengthy drive to reach their destinations in al-Bab, Azaz, Marea and other FSA-controlled areas.
Anadolu quoted a Turkish official in the transport sector as saying, “Thanks to the opening of [Bab al-Salam/Oncupinar crossing] for direct transit, the drivers and transport companies can shorten their distance and time. We needed four hours to reach Azaz, and now it only takes us 15 minutes.”
Not everyone is pleased with the change, however. The development has angered Syrian truck drivers, owners of shipping companies and employees.