Transport Europe - Middle East MIDDLE EAST

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The road haulage system has always been influenced to a large extent by the price and availability of fuel: in the 70s there was a real epochal revolution caused by the fact that at that time, the fuel problem was added an oil crisis, triggered by wars between Middle Eastern countries, large oil producers, with a sharp rise in prices and, consequently, with a strong availability of money from these Middle Eastern countries.
These were countries with a recent colonial past that had been exploited by the colonizing countries and had no industrial infrastructure, such as equipped ports, factories, highways, hospitals etc., typical of a modern country.

To aggravate the situation there was also the distance between these countries and industrialized Europe.

The sudden increase (and to a considerable extent) in the amount of money available from the Middle Eastern countries led to an enormous demand for raw materials and finished industrial products for the construction of infrastructures .
Of course, not only the goods had to be transported: teams of technicians had to be sent to organize these complex jobs.

Maritime transport, since ancient times, has been the main one, since on the mainland a road system was needed which was non-existent: thus began a frantic journey with ships from European ports to those of the Arab countries.
The problem was on arrival: due to overcrowding there was like a plug in the transport system. In the mid-70s a ship arriving in an Arab port could find itself in the condition of waiting even 40 days. in order to unload his load.

The situation quickly became unsustainable and it was decided to organize an auto transport system, using the trucks of the time (such as the VOLVO 188 and FIAT 619): only in the late 70s were more modern trucks used such as the IVECO 190.35 and VOLVO F12.

There was an immediate increase in road traffic by road: everything began to be transported: raw materials such ascement, iron, steel (indispensable for construction) but also tractors, machine tools etc. What could the itinerary be?

To get around the Mediterranean the only possibility was to travel through Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Syria where they began to cross the desert. They began at the beginning with groups of 6-7 trucks leaving from northern Europe (the first were British and Norwegian transporters who brought spare parts for the ships that arrived over there).
Of course, other European countries also sniffed the deal, soon deluded by easy profits: many started on this activity because the industrial crisis of that period pushed them to diversify their activity.

Of course they were not pleasure trips: dangerous roads, unknown languages with consequent difficulty in communicating, different habits, difficult climates with snow on the mountain passes of Yugoslavia and Turkey while the torrid heat of Arabia was felt in the final phase of the travel.
The Balkan route was really dangerous with drivers who, in order to earn even 15 ', ran like crazy on narrow roads, with serious risks for themselves and for others.

It is indicative to follow the vicissitudes of a Dutch driver, Hermann Ludwig, who left Rotterdam at the end of the summer: when he arrived in Yugoslavia he found bad roads, intense traffic and without rules, lack of repair shops and spare parts along the way

Great difficulties to face the Turkish mountain passes and endless queues at the borders for customs checks: once he had 70 trucks waiting in front of him!

At the end of the journey, with the fatigue that was felt and the torrid heat, the streets disappeared: here is the sand of the Arabian desert!
And after all this, a short rest and the beginning of the return journey with the usual difficulties: luggage piled on the roof, along with food supplies and ... no air conditioning.

In the late '70s things improved a bit: however, even in the most modern trucks, the air conditioner did not guarantee optimal performance.
The Italians also participated in these grueling trips, with firms from northern Italy: among them the Maderna of Milan and the F.lli Micheli of Bergamo.

In the 1980s there was a sharp slowdown in this traffic due to the end of the oil boom.

Tags: Middle East


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