Almost 3 months after the departure of our aid transport to Kyrgyzstan, we finally have positive news. The goods have been released by Belarus and can be returned to the Netherlands. We never imagined in June that this would be positive news.
Until Lithuania everything was running smoothly. The problems started when crossing the border into Belarus. Normally this is a formality, but Belarusian customs has unpacked, counted and sorted all our pallets. They took two weeks to do this. The main conclusion was that the transport was not allowed to cross the border because some foodstuffs such as pasta and canned fish had been found. Do not ask us how they got there, but we think customs were mainly looking for extra income for themselves. Because we had to pay € 2200 for the entire search procedure.
We have repeatedly contacted the Dutch embassy in Belarus. They have had two contacts with the customs office in Grodno. Because the procedure had already been started, customs could not adjust anything. Before we made the payment of € 2200 we asked for a free passage. This was possible after the removal of a number of products. Belarusian customs indicated that they would not remove products themselves. Our transporter had to do this in Lithuania. In the meantime, we had to provide a new invoice that also stated the foodstuffs.
The transporter from Lithuania then returned everything to their customs terminal in Lithuania (10 km from the Belarusian border). They had an adjusted transit document because the goods were now technically on their way from Belarus to Kyrgyzstan. For the EU, our transport now had a transit status. The next problem was that our goods could not actually be stored in this customs terminal because of these foodstuffs. Unloading was again delayed.
When we finally got permission from the EU to store the goods in Lithuania, a new problem arose. The transporter did not want to take responsibility for removing a number of products. In addition, they did not have the manpower to unpack 22 pallets. Peter has indicated that he will travel to Lithuania himself to remove the products concerned. This also turned out to be impossible due to corona quarantine measures for Dutch people in Lithuania. In addition, we did not receive permission from the Lithuanian government to enter the customs terminal.
In the meantime, we had asked dozens of people for help. Both in the Netherlands, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan. Fortunately, we have become much wiser. We knew our rights and obligations. The contact went so far that Kyrgyz customs was willing to arrange a TIR transport from Lithuania to Kyrgyzstan. This means that they could arrange for a truck to be sealed. And that there are no customs formalities in intermediate countries.
The condition was that our current transport has no transit status. However, the termination of this transit status was not successful. In addition, we had to pay extra costs every week for the storage of our goods in the customs terminal. This was getting more expensive every week. That is why we have decided, in consultation with a Dutch forwarder, to return the items to the Netherlands.
As soon as the goods have been registered for return, the transit status is canceled. The Kyrgyz customs will then send a TIR truck to pick up our belongings. We are allowed to use the entire truck for this. This means that it can even take 11 extra pallets.
Our goods have returned today. We want to resend the items within a week. This time without border controls and with guaranteed arrival in Kyrgyzstan. To make the transport an (even greater) success, we urgently ask you for help.
Firstly, we want to fill the 11 extra pallets with capital goods with which we can support local entrepreneurs. We have already received an ice cream machine for producing fresh ice creams. All machines, tools and raw materials are welcome. We prefer to have everything in before September 30th. If you have capital goods to donate, please get in touch at rycetravel.com
Second, we need additional donations to cover the huge additional costs. The customs formalities, storage, import duties and extra trucks will cost us at least € 12,850. To pay this we hope you will donate money (again) through our Crowd Funding page: https: //www.gofundme.com /corona-aid-kyrgyzstan