How to Reduce Slovenia Croatia Border Queues at Bregana by 50%… in 5 Minutes.

Total Croatia News

Delays on the border between Croatia and Slovenia have been in the news recently. TCN road tested two separate crossings on April 25, 2017, and found a simple solution to significantly reduce the traffic. 

A business trip to Munich, Ljubljana and Zagreb, starting in Varazdin, involves a fair amount of driving, and when all meetings have to be concluded in two days, timing is crucial. Looking at my online tools, my front door to my first Munich meeting would take exactly five hours, something quite stupendous for a boy who had lived for 14 years on a Dalmatian island, where no journey north began without a 2-hour ferry. There was only one thing which could potentially throw my schedule into chaos.

Crossing the Slovenian border.

We have written a lot about the recent problems with the increased delays at the Croatian Slovenian border, so no need to add to that here, except perhaps to say that I met a friend living in Prague the other day, who told me that the Czech media is full of the Croatian border story. The Czech market is one of Croatia’s biggest – and most guaranteed – with the majority coming by car. Unless this issue is resolved soon, it could have a very serious impact on the tourist season for Croatia, a country where tourist generates 18% of GDP. 

But back to my business trip – how to factor in the unpredictability of the Slovenian border? With a 5am start of course… 

Living in Varazdin, I simply turned out of my village and followed the road all the way to the border crossing near Ormuz, and in 15km, I was there. Queues? Apart from a couple of birds chirping away, there was nobody apart from the border control. Passport scanned by both countries, and I was free to go. I have never been so early for a meeting in Munich. Coming back however, was an altogether more interesting story, and one where one has to call into question the intelligence of the powers that be. 

From Munich to Ljubljana – my first visit in many years – for the first editorial meeting of Total Slovenia News, which will go live in a few weeks. A great meeting, and time for the last meeting of the day, in a third country, and I headed off to Zagreb along the motorway and towards the Bregana border crossing. I had left two hours to get through the border in my schedule – that would be enough, surely?

I was initially heartened to see the queue I was joining had about 30 cars. This should not take too long. But it was slow. So slow… Just what exactly were they doing at the border to take so long? With Croatia in the EU these days, there is no customs clearance to negotiate – it is a straight passport check and on. I understand that the new procedures now mean that every passport is scanned, and I can understand the logic (and slight delay) that this entails, but it was only when I got close to the Slovenian border control that I noticed something of the utmost stupidity which is probably doubling the waiting time. 

Bregana is a big border crossing, and as I waiting patiently, some 30 minutes or so already there, I looked ahead and realised that having got through the Slovenian bit, I would have to then drive a little and join a probably queue to cross the Croatian side too. Another 30 minutes. And then I saw it…

I wanted to take a photo as it would be so much easier to show, but I know there are rules about taking photos at borders. As I got close to the control, I noticed something a little odd. The car would approach the booth, an arm would come out of the car and hand over the passports. There would be a delay, and then in a couple of minutes, the passports would then be returned. The car was free to go. Except it never did. Instead, the driver advanced perhaps a metre (but certainly not enough for the next car to hand over his passport) and then the arm came out again. A minute or two later, the documents were returned, and he was free to go. During those 1-2 minutes, the Slovenian border guard had nothing to do, because the last car was blocking access. With no customs to worry about, what was this second control, and why was it so close to the Slovenian border control? If it was just 2 metres away, it would allow the next car to come and present documents to the Slovenian border control, and the whole process would move twice as fast. 

Finally I got close enough to find out – it was the Croatian border control! In this huge border crossing, and despite having their own shiny crossing 50 metres away, the decision had been taken to put the Croatian control right next to the Slovenian one, so that only one car could be processed by two countries at any given moment. In a world of increased tension between Slovenia and Croatia on a number of issues, it is heartening to see the border guards getting all cosy with each other, but were is the logic of this?

There is nothing wrong with the concept of the ‘one-stop shop’ – simply set up the Croatian control point at a distance where both guards can service a different car at the same time, and your traffic will pass twice as fast.


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