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HS Schoch


Higher costs, lower freight rates kill the business

Where can you still find Greek philosophers? Well, you find them in the bars - or in a hairdresser's salon. While Georgios applies a perfect haircut he is prepared to talk about politicians, the Greek crisis (or name it tragedy) and his personal philosophy. As most of the Greeks he hates politicians - the majority of the people is convinced that they are listed "on the payroll" of the bankers - and no other species is more hated in Greece than bankers. Georgios thinks that one important reason of the crisis ist the fact that too many people adore money as a god. "Well, it's important in life. But a god?" Not for Georgios, who thinks a good life is better than any currency.

On the other hand: Most of the people working in the Greek transport industry have to think about money. Everyday. They are "paid" with cheques payable nine months later, they have to cope with diesel prices which nearly doubled in only two years, their business decreased around 30 - 40 per cent, they have to pay 175 Euro of toll when driving from Athens to Thessaloniki (the rate was as low as 40 Euros three years ago) – and they have absolutely no chance to ask their clients for higher freight rates. OK, they may ask, but the answer will be NO! As competition is increasing, freight rates are even decreasing - and every now or then a operator takes a load for rates lower than his costs, just to get some cash in the box.

In Greece drivers and their patrons may be one of their kind in Europe as they permanently ask for more police checkposts and intensive controlling. So they hope to get rid of the illegal truckers from neighbouring countries: In Albania, Mazedonia or Bulgaria wages, taxes and social duties are as low as only a tenth of the Greek niveau. And those competitors take a big piece of the cake.

Nevertheless owner operators like Andreas Novas want to fight, even if they have to work more than 15 hrs six days a week. Andreas names it, what most of those people think: "I love my truck and I love my life."

What will happen if states are totally collapsing can be seen in the harbour city of Patras: There you may find a shadow army. Friendly refugees fleeing the hot spots all around the world and waiting for their chance to jump on a truck heading to the ferries. The want to "travel" to Italy and from there into the rich EU-countries, f.e. Germnany, Sweden or France. some of them have to spend months or even years in Patras - always afraid to encounter police raids, always hungry, always on the move.

for the whole story contact: Richard Kienberger