COVID-19: Recommendations for urgent measures in inland waterways transport

14 Apr 2020


The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on inland waterways transport (IWT) is vast and continues to grow. More needs to be done to ensure safety – in addition to safe sailing, safe working conditions onboard are paramount.

To deal with this crisis, the cooperation of authorities on all levels is critical. Today, ETF  launched recommendations for urgent action and is calling on the European Commission, competent national authorities, local bodies and authorities, and employers to take heed.

In addition to ensuring an easy and safe crossing of borders and financial and social measures for the crew, ETF is giving particular attention to the actions of local authorities and employers.

ETF calls upon local organisations and authorities to:

  • Keep terminals, ports and transhipment places open and accessible for safe crew changes.
  • Provide a safe berth for freight vessels as the demand is falling and many are temporarily stopping with navigation. We request that this possibility is available for a more extended period, as needed. These vessels should not be refused as in many cases, crewmembers’ workplaces are also their home.
  • Exempt IWT barges from paying the local levies in ports and berthing locations in the case of prolonged lay-off period, at least for the duration of the national lockdown period.
  • Guarantee safe passage by ensuring the servicing of locks.

ETF calls upon employers to:

  • Remember that they are responsible for good and safe working conditions – in these times, we expect employers to take extra safety measures.
  • Ensure safe transport of crews from and to the vessel, and preferably through individual transport and the disinfection of cars, mini-buses etc.
  • Organise crew changes with minimal physical contact between the different crews.
  • Provide protective equipment and materials, such as disinfecting soap.


More recommendations can be found in the ETF Inland Waterways Transport Section statement – available for download on your right.