It's more than just a job - the way he talks about it makes it seem a passion, and even sometimes a vocation.
Mirko manages the family shipping business, but he is first and foremost a trucker: his truck is his home away from home. He talked to us about his experience and that of "his guys" in phase 1 of the Italian lockdown, difficult times marked by an awareness that their work is essential to the country.
How was it to work in the trenches?
"We were on the road every day, and after they lifted the restrictions on driving, even Saturday and Sunday, without a moment's pause. Of course there was some fear, but mainly we were just tired and had to make do without so many of the services we're used to, but we couldn't stop. It's our job, but in this situation, also a duty. Only we were allowed to be on the roads. Every day we hoped we wouldn't meet anyone, because while it's our job to drive, it's been yours to stay home.“
“We had to organise ourselves and make do with what we had. Here in Italy everything was closed on the roads, but we didn't let it get us down. You'd eat sitting on the truck's loading platform with the seashore in front of you - it was actually really nice at times. The important thing was to guarantee our service and reinforce our position as professional and reliable truckers.”
How did the coronavirus emergency affect the road transport industry, from your perspective?
“It was very difficult at the start. Our clients were not paying, and a lot of us went through hard times. But things are moving again now - at least in part. Those who went on working, out of choice or because they could, must be able to guarantee safe, reliable transport. There are lots of controls, and if everything's not right then you'll have problems - and rightly so. Personally, my company has had a good response from our clients, they've continued working with us, and we've demonstrated our reliability and professionalism. But lots of trucking companies have had to shut down, unfortunately...”
How did you safeguard yourselves against the risk of infection, working so hard in such an unusual situation?
“We had so much work, Italian food shops and supermarkets were experiencing the same level of demand as Christmas. And I have to admit there's always the fear factor. We feel it, and so do our clients. So we immediately took all possible precautions. We sanitise our cabs, and as soon as we leave the cab we put on gloves and a mask. I also bought myself an ozone sanitising device. You can never be too careful, and our motto has always been to be proactive and in the game.”
Some have called them heroes, they themselves say they're unstoppable, but there can be no doubt that truckers, just like doctors, nurses, safety officers, cashiers and so many others, have kept the life running. A concrete demonstration of the importance of a category that transports more that 70% of goods in Europe, and which is now feeling the need for long-term national strategic planning. Transpotec Logitec, in just a year, will be the occasion to meet, talk and agree how to support the industry and get back to work and growth.
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