Monday 17th December: Tracks Closed.

2500 across the Border

Dakar 2011

maddix park mx

Have you ever thought about the logistics of getting 2500 people and vehicles over a border crossing between two countries when there is a race on and time is of the essence ? The 2011 Dakar travels through both Argentina and Chile, so the whole process happens twice during the race.  Read this report from French reporter, Louis Villers : www.webdocu.fr.

A couple of mornings ago, more than 2500 people (riders, drivers, spectators, organizers, journalists…) crossed the Argentine-Chilean border via the "Paso de Jama", perched over 4400 metres high in the Andes. Some crossed by car, others flew, others rode and some crossed in trucks. How does the Dakar handle this administrative problem? How do they avoid delaying the race, having competitors stopped at the border? How do they prevent trafficking?

No race delay

The primary goal of the organizers is to not delay the race. Even though there is a border crossing, a special is held.  Altitude is a real constraint on the caravan. Many people suffer from lack of oxygen. The first vehicles leave the bivouac at 5 a.m., to join the line of departure, located a few kilometres over the Chilean border. In order to facilitate the crossing of the caravan, organizers bring  customs institutions from both countries onto the bivouac. Marie-Noëlle Mainard coordinates relations with the host countries. She explains the procedures that are in place:

Each  person crosses the border by showing a single document. Passports have been stamped prior. Members of the Organization traveling by plane have the same facility.
Of course, with about 2500 persons, there are inevitably some who will lose or have forgotten their passport. It happens every year, and organizers have to anticipate the problem: "we are in direct relation with the Consulate and French Government who have put in place a system to cover several nationalities." When there is an irregularity or a loss, we send photocopies of passports that we have collecedt before the race to the Consulate. "They can then deliver the necessary papers as soon as possible" says Marie-Noëlle.

Anti-trafficking and Customs requirements
Last year, a drug-filled truck was stopped. Even though it had a sticker like the official one of the Dakar Organization and had circulated with the caravan during the rally, it was not one of the official trucks. To avoid this problem and to ensure that trucks enrolled in the caravan are not carrying illegal items, the Organization has implemented a number of measures. Vehicles are controlled before leaving the French port of Le Havre. On arrival in South America, the identification of vehicles has been tightened up. The organization knows very quickly which family owns such or such vehicle and thus a vehicle not formally belonging to the caravan can be more easily spotted  

Another problem specific to the Chilean border, is the agricultural control (i.e. MAF). Chile is a large exporter of fresh products (vegetables, fruits) and wishes to maintain its status. There are strict border controls on incoming produce. Truck checks are held in the bivouac. The trucks are then sealed and cannot be disturbed until after crossing the border.

The procedures remain in effect for 3 days, 24 hours a day. Measures are relatively identical back on the Argentinian side of the Andes, but a little further south, ready for the Dakar’s return crossing in the second half of the race.

 
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