Panama transports stuck in Nicaragua

Demonstrations in Nicaragua are keeping at least 100 cargo carriers from Panama trapped. Cargo transporters request assistance from SICA

The Logistics Business Council (COEL) , made up of the main business associations in the country, requested that the Central American Integration System (SICA) intercede with the Government of Nicaragua to release dozens of cargo transports from Panama which have been trapped in Nicaraguan territory due to demonstrations for over 16 days. They have been held in Nicaraguan territory by roadblocks and mobs that have generated the socio-political crisis in that country.

"What we are requesting is that the protocols of the regional integration organizations be activated so that Nicaragua, as a member of SICA, grants us a period of between 8 to10 days to free the passage of transport units with international plates. We need the goods in transit arrive to destination and be able to return to their country, "said René Paredes , president of the National Chamber of Transport and Cargo of Panama (Canatraca).

So far, it has been possible to locate 100 Panamanian drivers, but it is estimated that the figure exceeds 300 transporters, says Demóstenes Pérez, COEL president.

"The list of drivers may be longer because there are also transporters stranded  in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. There are also Panamanian drivers in Panama and Costa Rica waiting for the alert situation to end, "said Paredes.

Losses in Central America due to the blockade in Nicaragua represent more than $700 million. Panama transports medicines, fertile chicken eggs, meat products and goods from the Colon Free Zone (ZLC) to Central America.

Drivers who are in transit in Panamanian territory were placed in an area with customs security, said Rodriguez.
To assist the Panamanian transporters affected by the closure, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama activated on Monday the Information Coordination Center (Cecodi).

"Since the beginning of the crisis, the ambassador of Panama in Nicaragua, Eddy Davis Rodríguez, has been in direct communication with the carriers, assisting the critical areas and constantly monitoring the situation. He has also coordinated the delivery of food and places of rest for those affected, "the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. However, René Paredes, president of the Canatraca, said that until yesterday the Panamanian transporters had not had communication with the Panamanian authorities in Nicaragua.

"I has been reported that some vehicles have been shot at, food is scarce, are incommunicado and fear for their lives because until now no authority has arrived, "Paredes complained.

The SICA, for its part, proposed, through an official communication, the president of the Republic of El Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén and the president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado , to evaluate the approval of maritime routes that allow the use of ports of cabotage, as alternatives to land transport.