Chaos at the Polish-Ukraine border as row over transport permits continues

Continuing protests at the Poland-Ukraine border by transport companies and truck drivers, with farmers now joining in. The blockade against Ukrainian trucks has created lengthy queues, causing significant disruption, worsened by winter conditions.

Truck driver Oleg Treciak just wants to go home.

"Let us all go home," he said. "This is our kind request. This is not normal. Some people came here and spent even three weeks in the cabin for three weeks."

Volunteers have provided Ukrainian drivers with food - Artom is Ukrainian and has lived in Poland for years. Now he's at the border helping his countrymen get through the ordeal.

"We have brought food, including hot soup, and some basic things that drivers who stay here simply need."

One of the main complaints by Polish transport company owners is the scrapping of permits for drivers from Ukraine in order to prevent transport disruption.

Edyta Ozygala is the owner of a Polish transport company:

"The fundamental grievance with the Ukrainian drivers concerns the exclusion of EU drivers from a system which we call the "e-queue" that regulates departures from Ukraine and entry to Poland," she says. "This time is time lost, while we wait for the departure from Ukraine. We have to spend many days there. Generally, at the moment, it is about 12-14 days of this waiting, and we wait in cars."

The second important issue is with the European Commission and its restrictions on the number of trucks transiting Ukraine and the EU; they were changed to help Ukraine after the Russian invasion.

"We want withdrawal from the unfavourable EU-Ukraine contract," says Krzysztof Bosak, an MP with Poland's Confederation party.

"A contract that scrapped a system of mutual permits that previously regulated Ukraine-EU relations within the transport sector. The total scrapping of the permit system, as Brussels did, destabilised the market completely and we need a return to the normal situation in which the entrepreneurs on both sides benefit and know where they stand."

After a month of protest at the borders with Ukraine, Poles have now been joined by truck drivers in Slovakia. On December 4, Ukraine and Poland agreed to open an additional border crossing, but only for empty trucks.