The Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Lithuania, Rokas Masiulis has taken interest in the activities of one of the largest logistics companies in Europe. Today he visited the transport base of Girteka Logistics in the Free Economic Zone in Šiauliai. After discussing important issues with the company’s chief executives and inspecting the premises, the minister was in for an adventure – he tried himself in front of the wheel of a truck.
Carriers Are Among the State’s Top Priorities
The Minister of Transport and Communications joked that, unlike other times, this time the purpose of his visit to Šiauliai was not to assess the condition of the roads.
“I wanted to visit the Girteka company base in Šiauliai. The transport sector accounts for about 12 percent of our country’s gross domestic product. 6 out of the 12 percent come from truck transport alone. This is significantly higher than the European average, and that is why this business is very important for our country,” Mr. Masiulis told the press after meeting with the company’s executives.
The Minister inspected the Drivers’ Academy set up at the premises of Girteka Logistics as well as other premises. He had a look at the fleet of trucks and got acquainted with the latest technologies facilitating communication with drivers carrying cargo abroad and their control.
The rapidly growing company currently employs about 12 thousand people, but it’s expanding its activities and is planning to have as many as 23 thousand employees by 2021. The fleet consists of 5000 trucks and 5500 semi-trailers.
“Girteka is one of the largest companies in Europe. This is a unique achievement. We have something to be proud of. It is wonderful that high-end technologies are used. According to the CEO, the trucks are not older than two years old. These are completely new trucks. Cutting edge high technologies are used for business development, good conditions for employees are created, and salary growth ensured. I am glad that the company contributes to the decline in emigration from the country, as many people return from emigration and start working here. The company also employs many foreigners, it is a very progressive company indeed,” said the Minister.
According to him, the companies that bring such significant benefits to the state oblige the state to contribute to solving various issues. One of them – investment plans or projects, successful implementation of which requires government support.
“So when, say, new business objects are built, they require new roads, urban planning and so on. This is where the state has to contribute. As soon as the company reaches a certain size, it is obliged to cooperate with the state in one way or another, and we, the government, support our companies that are making the name of Lithuania known in the world,” said R. Masiulis.
Mobility Package Still in Deadlock
According to the Minister of Transport and Communications, the “mobility package” discussed by the European Commission is the “headache” of all European carriers. The aim of this document is to increase road safety, promote fairer road charging systems, reduce CO2 emissions, air pollution and traffic jams, as well as bureaucratic burdens on businesses, to fight illegal employment and provide workers with appropriate conditions and rest periods. However, according to the minister, it is a source of discontent between the countries of Eastern and Western Europe.
“We represent the Eastern bloc. Our carriers also want to compete fairly with Western carriers. Western countries, in our opinion, apply artificial barriers. We agree to pay an average Western salary, in fact, it is being paid already. So that we are not afraid of fair competition, but unfortunately, when cabotage requirements are introduced (the number of transportation operations per country), then the average salary is added to it. We find these requirements excessive. We do not agree with that, nor do the Poles disagree, nor the Romanians – the countries that have major transport fleets. And I think that for Western Europe itself it would be hard to do without our trucks. Girteka with its fleet of refrigerators is the largest in Europe. I think a compromise must be found in any case. But so far, things are moving hard. Unfortunately, there is protectionism in Europe,” the minister described the situation on the international stage.
Drove a Truck
As a way to express its gratitude, Girteka offered the minister to have a go at driving a refrigerator truck.
“I do not have a license to drive a truck, but as far as I can see, one has an opportunity to learn,” laughed Rokas Masiulis, answering the journalists’ question whether he has the right to drive vehicles of this category.
However, with the help of an instructor, the minister succeeded in making a few laps. Upon leaving the cabin, he acknowledged that driving a refrigerator truck is more complicated than driving a car.