Road transport obstacles affecting trade in the Arab world can be dramatically eased by a global customs transit system to be introduced in the UAE, the International Transport Union (IRU) says.
Highlighting problems faced by the road transport industry as a result of delays caused by customs procedures, IRU research findings presented in Dubai showed that trucks making 108 trips carrying 1.866 million kg of cargo spent 855 days on the road, with 57% of transport time lost at borders.
It was based on drivers’ journals collected between September 2012 and April 2013 for shipments by road in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE and Yemen.
The Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, which hosted last week’s IRU summit in Dubai, held under the patronage of his H.E. Dr. Abdullah Bilhaif Al-Nuaimi, UAE Minister of Public Works and Chairman of the NTA, is working towards the introduction in the Emirates of the TIR (International Road Transport) System, which cuts the time trucks spend at borders from days to hours.
Appointed last year by the National Transport Authority (NTA) as the official authority to issue TIR Carnets for truck operators, the ATCUAE in April signed an agreement with Dubai Customs to work together to introduce the system. The ATCUAE expects to secure agreements with customs authorities in the other six emirates before the end of the year. In a further development following last week’s 2014 IRU Academy Seminar and Accredited Transport Institute (ATI) meeting in Dubai, the IRU has confirmed the accreditation of the ATCUAE to deliver training programmes for transport operators.
The ATCUAE will immediately begin offering training programmes for the IRU Certificate of Professional Competence to road transport professionals in the UAE.
“We are very happy to be reinforcing our partnership with the IRU,” said ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem. “The new training programmes we will be running are designed to improved road safety and transport efficiency, which ultimately benefits the economy and society as a whole,” he added.
Last week’s IRU conference in Dubai was addressed by an international panel of speakers focusing on major issues affecting road safety and international trade. It was attended by more than 100 experts from Accredited Training Institutes, the NTA, the customs authorities of the seven emirates, the Federal Custom s Authority, Economic development departments of the UAE, driving institutes and transport operators.
Dr. Nadhem A. Bin Taher, Executive Director of the NTA’s Land Transport Affairs Sector, told delegates that the UAE represents an important link within the international transport routes in general, and specifically within the GCC region. With heavy transit traffic between Oman and the rest of the region passing through the Emirates, there were more than 5,000 cross-border transactions per day, amounting to more than 4.5 million tonnes of cargo per year.
Bin Taher said, “The UAE enacted the Land Transport Law No. 9 of 2011 in view of the important role played by road transport in the overall transport logistics chain.” He added, “One of the most important considerations when elaborating the Land Transport Law was ensuring compliance with international treaties and agreements in the field of land transport, including the TIR Convention.”
IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto said good infrastructure, and harmonised legislative frameworks to facilitate trade and international road transport, were necessary conditions to allow road transport to drive trade and enhance economic development.
“Transport of people and goods is a specific activity which takes place in the public domain,” he told delegates. “To function well, it needs to rely on a harmonised level playing field and industry best practices to guarantee safe, secure and efficient services,” he added.