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18 Nov 2021

Reid Standish, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Kyrgyzstan: Truckers protest new COVID-related restrictions imposed by China fearing they will bear added costs

Squeezed On Both Sides: Kyrgyz Truckers Protest New Rules To Restart Trade With China, 13 November 2021

For more than 18 months, pandemic-related restrictions introduced by China along its border with Kyrgyzstan have seen cross-border commerce dwindle and left the truckers and businesses who rely on the shuttle trade desperate for a financial lifeline.

Now, a new system proposed by the Kyrgyz government to kick-start trade between the two countries has truck drivers who make their living ferrying cargo across the border worried that prohibitive added costs could leave them squeezed even further.

Under the proposed new rules, drivers could be charged a fee ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 per truck for this service, which could cut into already thin profit margins. Adding to the anxiety and confusion, full details of the arrangement have not been presented to Kyrgyzstan's various truckers associations.

In addition to suggested rules, China keeps the pandemic and health restrictions at the borders, among which...a time-consuming disinfection process for trucks and goods arriving from Kyrgyzstan as well as checks on the drivers themselves. This...has sent wait times soaring and limited the numbers of trucks able to cross on a given day.

The proposed measures that drivers protested on November 8 are intended to speed up this process and eliminate the bottlenecks at the borders that have developed over the course of the pandemic...