Don’t blame lack of drivers for the delays in aid to Puerto Rico’s residents, says union, blame the bureaucratic red tape.
Over the last week, following Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on the island of Puerto Rico, the news media has focused on the slowness of aid being distributed to the island’s residents.
While, on Friday and Saturday, San Juan’s mayor and U.S. President Donald Trump got into a war of words over the issue, the problem, it seems, is not that aid has not arrived in Puerto Rico—there will have been 4,000 containers delivered by Friday, according to NPR—the problem has reportedly been the lack of drivers available to deliver the aid.
“These containers are full of food, these containers are full of water, full of medicine … full of construction materials,” says [shipping container company Crowley] Vice President Jose Ayala, who notes a barge a day has arrived since the port opened on Saturday. “It has reached Puerto Rico. The problem is we can’t get it on the shelves.”
However, the bottleneck may not, in fact, be due to a lack of drivers, according to the Union de Tronquistas de Puerto Rico local 901 (an affiliate of the Teamsters), but due to the paperwork required to get the containers cleared from the docks.
On Wednesday, as news reports began blaming the lack of drivers on the island for the aid delays, the union stated on its Facebook page that this was not the case.
Rather, the union said, the problem is with the container owners and the paperwork.
From Facebook’s translation:
The Truckers are on the street working from the day after the hurricane has passed and we will continue to work to bring peace and tranquillity to the people.
It should be clarified that containers that have arrived at the docks are consigned to a person or entity or company who is responsible or owner of the goods.
That owner has to claim or pull up the container so that the trucker can go to dock to get him out.
Until the container is not up (Cliriado in our colloquial) the truck driver can’t get it out.
When the news says that the containers are on the dock and they have not been removed, it means that they have not been cleared up by the owner or owner of the goods.
The Truckers are ready and willing to take out the containers when they’re gone!
— euronews (@euronews) September 30, 2017