Union leaders in Egypt say at least 15 truck drivers have died in the heat while waiting at the border to enter Sudan, where the conflict has roughly 4,000 drivers currently idled and shipments have stacked up for two months.
Journalists at the Cairo-based Mada Masr said the 15 drivers have died in the past two weeks, delayed at either the Qastal or Arqin crossings. The 2,500 trucks waiting at Arqin have no access to water, parking or other services. Heat stroke was listed as cause of death on some of the death certificates.
A Union for Land Transport Workers source told Mada that transport trucks crossing the Sudanese border normally have enough food and drink to last from 10 to 15 days. But with waiting periods stretching much longer, “people still want to go and get water from anywhere, but this means that they will lose their place in the queue and start over, so they don’t go,” the report said.
Among other things, the fighting in Sudan has disrupted paperwork processing that the truckers need to document their loads of cement, food and other goods. Sudanese officials aren’t available, and in some cases that means the drivers are trapped because they can’t clear customs or even return to Egypt once they complete deliveries.
Complaints have been filed with Egyptian authorities, the transport unions said.
It’s not clear how the trucking standstill is affecting humanitarian aid. At least 4 million people have been displaced in Sudan since fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out on April 15, most of them from Khartoum.
August 11 was the first time a truck convoy coming from Chad was able to deliver humanitarian aid to West Darfur, according to the World Food Program.