The Arizona Department of Transportation last week warned the public of threats made by Mexican truck drivers.
According to a press release from Arizona Department of Transportation, Mexican drivers “expressed concern” over access and treatment by U.S. federal inspectors. The tension has bogged so high that Mexican truck drivers are now threatening to “institute a blockage of the Arizona border crossing.”
The frustrated Mexican drivers gave a March 20th deadline was given by the drivers, and so far, officials have been able to stave off the threats.
Trucking companies in Nogales, Sonora and Arizona have voiced their frustration over the high number of inspection, high level of fines and the high number of trucks being declared OOS by U.S. federal inspectors. AzDOT says that compared to other borders in Texas and California, the levels of fines and OOS rates are disproportionately high at Nogales, San Luis and Douglas.
“While the Arizona Department of Transportation doesn’t take a position on the merit of these grievances, the department is urging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to carefully consider these complaints and to resolve differences with the trucking industry to avoid a blockade,” the Arizona Department of Transportation press release states.
Arizona Department of Transportation Director John S. Halikowski is hoping to quell tensions during the busy commercial travel season. During the peak produce season, between 1,500-2,000 trucks pass through the border each day.
“A blockade would have detrimental and long-standing repercussions for Nogales and the entire Sinaloa-Sonora-Arizona corridor as Arizona looks to enhance competitiveness with other U.S. border states,” Halikowski said. “The United States and Mexico are engaged in a high-level dialogue to promote competitiveness and connectivity along with fostering economic growth and productivity. But without an effective and efficient border, our two nations would not be able to reach their maximum potential. Our work on the border is critical to Arizona’s and the nation’s future.”
In addition to trucks, two-way traffic at Arizona’s international ports of entry is increasing. In 2013, 16.3 million cars crossed thorough Arizona’s ports of entry– a 1.3 million increase over the previous year. In addition, truck traffic increased from 754,000 crossings in 2013 to 763,000 crossings in 2013.
Cross-border traffic between Arizona and Mexico is critical for tourism, commerce and economic development, the press release states.
“Mexico is a critical partner with Arizona, with $14.1 billion in bilateral trade occurring annually. Close to 40 percent of all fresh produce consumed in the United States during the winter makes its way through the Nogales Port of Entry alone,” the press release states.
“Arizona and our federal partners have been working tirelessly to ensure that our ports of entry are modernized so that we can remain competitive with other border states,” said Margie Emmermann, executive director of the Arizona-Mexico Commission. “We are seeing the fruits of our labor as flows of people and trade at our ports of entry are on an upward trend. This marks the third year that our numbers demonstrate substantial growth in both trade and people crossing the border, and we expect this trend to continue.”
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