SANTIAGO – Chile’s CNDC trucking association said Tuesday that a week-long strike by the country’s customs agents has paralyzed 95 percent of overland exports and imports and is costing the economy $10 million a day.
The CNDC estimates that 30,000 trucks – half the country’s commercial fleet – are sitting at border posts, though the government disputes the association’s figures.
“The government must sit down with the officials and talk, even if only to reach a partial solution, because we can’t go on this way. We’re desperate,” CNDC president Juan Araya told Efe.
Refrigerated trucks, such as those carrying salmon from Puerto Montt, must keep their engines running while idling for hours at customs posts, he said.
Both the trucking industry and the striking customs agents, represented by the Anfach union, expressed concern over a lack of inspections at border crossings.
“The cargos that enter and leave the country are circulating as if there were no borders. There is no oversight and there are significant risks,” Anfach leader Marcelo Reyes said, while Araya spoke of “attorneys doing the work of customs agents” at the key Los Libertadores crossing on the Chile-Argentina border.
“There are, in fact, various types of supervisors on duty at the customs posts and yes, there are attorneys, but they were trained previously,” National Customs Service director Gonzalo Pereira told Efe in response to the criticisms.
Not a single customs post is “completely paralyzed,” he said, adding that the CNDC’s figures for the number of trucks sitting in lines “are not correct.”