Uzbekistan HGV training centre set to ready thousands of truckers for European roads

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An HGV training centre being set up in Uzbekistan is set to help train thousands of lorry drivers for life working on Europe's roads, Trans.INFO can reveal. In an insightful interview conducted by Anna Skripal from Trans.INFO's Eastern European service, the boss of Uzbekistan's international haulage association has explained how the centre has been funded and who it will serve.

Uzbekistan HGV training centre set to ready thousands of truckers for European roads
Photos: AIRCUZ

The fact that the centre is being created is of course no secret; the likes of Girteka and the Lithuanian haulage association have already talked about the role the facility will play in addressing driver shortages in Lithuania.

However, a Trans.INFO exclusive by Anna Skripal has shed yet more light on the project. Skripal spoke to Sanzhar Pulatov, Chairman of the Association of International Road Carriers of Uzbekistan (AIRCUZ) to find out more about the centre.

Pulatov explained in the interview that the training centre is set to open next year and has mostly been funded by the Uzbekistan state authorities. The project is supported by the IRU, while Linava, the Lithuanian haulage association, are helping to train the driving instructors that will work at the facility.

Pulatov also revealed that Lithuanian hauliers alone are seeking to hire as many as 30,000 drivers per year – an amount the new training centre will only be able to “partially provide”.

Pulatkov added that Hegelmann’s Polish entity requires around 1,500-2,000 thousand truckers a year. He also claims that Jan Buczyk, President of Poland’s ZMPD road transport association, had told him that “Polish transport companies are constantly growing their fleets, but there is a catastrophic lack of drivers.”

The AIRCUZ chairman then told Trans.INFO that in the near future he hopes to provide European hauliers with the opportunity to recruit drivers directly from the training centre. Pulatkov said that himself and his colleagues had talked to representatives of road transport associations from Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Germany besides Lithuania.

Moreover, the Uzbekistan road transport association boss explained that they could also tweak their training program to meet the demand for ADR drivers in countries like Belgium:

“Everyone was very interested in our project. Everyone needs drivers. But requirements vary from company to company. For example, the Belgians need drivers who work with dangerous substances – the transport of fuel, explosive cargo, or even nuclear materials. We are currently training truckers under one program. If necessary, tomorrow we will switch to another one or supplement the existing program.”

When asked how much the Europe-bound truckers from the new training centre would be paid, Pulatov replied:

“They will earn €70-80 per day. Of course, the level of income depends on the qualifications of the driver and his ability to drive economically. However, in general, it’s about €2,000-2,500 per month.”

AIRCUZ’s chairman was also quizzed on the potential exploitation of drivers who graduate from the centre and end up in Europe. Pulatkov claimed that AIRCUZ hopes to avoid such problems through its partnerships with logistics associations in Estonia and Lithuania. AIRCUZ will also work with the Uzbekistan Embassy in Latvia to monitor the situation there.

In addition, Pulatkov said that AIRCUZ was working with hauliers who have a “good reputation” before going on to refer to legal protections in the EU Mobility Package.

Another question from Skripal concerned why Uzbekistan-based truckers keen on work in Europe would not just head to the continent to do their training there. According to the AIRCUZ Chairman, cost will be the decision-making main factor. Citing Lithuania as an example, Pulatkov stated that drivers would be able to access training in Uzbekistan for a price five times lower.

Looking forward, Pulatkov said that the AIRCUZ, together with the support from the IRU, were also exploring the possibility of creating similar HGV driving centres in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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