Traffic jams at the Romanian-Ukrainian border and a hundred ships stranded at Sulina

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In the Ukrainian port of Ismail, truck drivers are queuing up with trucks full of grain, while on the other side of the Danube, in Romania, waiting for ships to take these grain to the ports on the Black Sea,

Hundreds of ships, with different flags, are stationed off the port of Sulina, where they are waiting to arrive in Ukraine to be loaded with grain.

Moscow’s blockade on Ukrainian seaports, starting with the one in Odessa, has paralyzed the country’s exports as one of the world’s largest grain producers.

The alternative is the Danube. But the big problem is the capacity of the infrastructure on this river “, explained Iuri Dimcioglo, former vice-president of the Odessa regional council. According to him, since the beginning of the Russian invasion, “only 1.5 million tons of grain could be exported in this way”, a drop compared to the 20 to 25 million tons of grain that are currently blocked in Ukraine.

On the other hand, the number of boats that have to transport goods to customers from abroad, going down the Danube to reach the Black Sea, has also multiplied.

Off the port of Sulina, there are almost a hundred ships waiting, between seven and ten days on average, before they can enter the canal in the direction of Ukrainian ports. “Our workload has greatly increased. We are standing from east to west. It is an effort for Romania“, says Gabriel Danila-Mihalcea, the captain of a ship that has multiplied its flights between Sulina and the Black Sea.

“Last month, 400 ships passed through Sulina, a record number,” said Mihai Calin, chief mechanic on a pilot ship.

“Traffic has tripled compared to May 2021”, confirms the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Transport, Ion Popa. This increase “is an effort for Romania”, Ion Popa underlines, adding that he hopes that Brussels will come to Romania’s aid.

Almost 700,000 tons of grain have been transported since the beginning of the war in Ukraine via the port of Constanta, on board barges, trains or trucks, Ion Popa points out. However, the queues at the border crossings between Ukraine and Romania are getting longer every day.

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