Nothing works anymore. If you want to travel, you don’t know if you’ll arrive. Anyone looking for a craftsman can wait a long time. If you order something, you have to be patient. And anyone who dares to ask their own city administration for a service needs strong nerves. Material that is not there, a lack of skilled workers and sick staff are making the country paralyzed.
It’s stuck in Germany. Those West Germans who for decades saved the GDR as the land of waiting are now experiencing that they themselves have to stand in line: if they want to get from one place to another, if they want something repaired at home, or if they just do that apply for a new ID card in the city where they live.
The long wait has meanwhile assumed historical dimensions. Progress has never been so slow, report the various sectors.
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The reasons for the long waiting time vary, but one thing is interconnected: the consequences of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the lack of suitable workers are the main problems. There is a lot of sand in the gears in these six areas:
Owners of handicraft companies are closing the business due to old age because they have not found a successor. Many also look in vain for trainees, but school leavers now prefer an academic career. That’s why there are no journeymen.
At the same time, the demand for building materials has increased since the corona pandemic subsided. However, the supply chains are still not intact, which is why materials do not arrive when they are supposed to. However, construction is still going on, if only because the legislator is issuing ever stricter energy saving regulations.
A lack of craftsmen, scarce materials and rising prices meet a comparatively high demand, which leads to extreme waiting times. According to estimates by trade associations, a bricklayer takes up to nine months to come, a roofer five months and a tiler four months. The coveted heat pumps are not arriving, there is a lack of installers and devices.
The Germans have not traveled for two years, Corona forced them to stay at home. When the pandemic subsided after the winter, the great travel fever broke out, and bookings rose rapidly. The problem: both airports and the major airlines failed to find enough staff for the boom in good time.
According to a recent evaluation by the Index Group, a personnel service provider, security companies, for example, only began looking for new staff for airports in April. “The much too late start of the airport operator’s recruiting activities is a major reason for the current situation at the airports,” says Jürgen Grenz, head of the Index Group.
More than 7,000 employees are missing on the ground, and the crews in the air have been thinned out. Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr is contrite to customers and even admitted his own mistakes in human resources management. The consequences are chaotic conditions and even fisticuffs at airports such as Düsseldorf, where angry holidaymakers are in danger of missing their holiday planes.
Those who rely on the railway are often abandoned. Even according to its own knowledge, Deutsche Bahn has to admit that it has once again become less punctual. About one in three long-distance trains does not arrive within five minutes of the time specified in the timetable. As a result, travelers miss connecting trains, which multiplies their delays.
The regional traffic does not appear in the calculation at all, just as little as the completely canceled trains. Since the beginning of the year, the proportion of punctual long-distance trains has continued to fall. The number of ICE and IC trains that reached their scheduled stations with a delay of more than 15 minutes also increased.
A railway spokesman justified the renewed deterioration primarily with the existing construction sites. Accordingly, the railway is a victim of its own ambitions. This year, a record sum of 13.6 billion euros is to be built. And wherever there is construction, nothing goes according to plan.
The year 2018 has so far come up with a record: Statisticians counted around 1.5 million kilometers of traffic jams on German autobahns. After that, the traffic jam length decreased. Corona made people stay at home. Since 2021, the traffic jam length has been increasing again, 850,000 kilometers were counted last year. The length of the traffic jam is often not due to current congestion on the route, but often to chronically broken roads, as shown, for example, by the disaster surrounding the dilapidated Rahmede viaduct in the Sauerland on the Autobahn 45. It probably could have been avoided.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia had already awarded a “planning contract for a new replacement building” for the bridge in 2015. However, the project was postponed in 2017 “because of a changed prioritization”. Other measures on other bridges were more urgent, as the Ministry of Transport announced in response to a parliamentary question. Then suddenly serious damage to the Rahmede Bridge was discovered and it has been closed since last December. Initially there was hope of repairing it, or at least rebuilding it as quickly as the collapsed bridge at Genoa. It had taken the Italians two years. Both turned out to be unrealistic. The broken bridge is to be blown up in December and a new one built in five years.
Environmentalists have already spoken out against building without a prior environmental impact assessment and have not ruled out a lawsuit in this case. The Autobahn GmbH is in coordination with nature conservationists and environmental authorities to create alternative roosts for bats, dormouse and peregrine falcons that live in or under the bridge.
If you still prefer the car and maybe want to buy a new model, you need patience as well as money. On the one hand, manufacturers are still feeling the effects of the corona pandemic, which is leading to long-term supply bottlenecks for necessary parts such as semiconductors. On the other hand, there is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine is an important supplier of, among other things, wire harnesses, which are now lacking.
The result: Some cars may be advertised but not in reality. For example, if you want an electric Fiat 500, dealers advise you not to do so over the phone because they cannot give you a delivery date. If you order a Smart Cabrio, you can hope for delivery in autumn next year and you can wish for the Maybach for Christmas. 2023
At VW in Hanover, where the commercial vehicles are made, the balance after the first quarter sounded like this: “Compared to the previous year, deliveries fell by 14.5 percent to 81,900 vehicles.” Sales Director Lars Krause says: “Demand for our products remains high and our order books are well filled. We hope that the supply situation will ease so that we can supply our customers with the vehicles they want and have ordered.”
Anyone who sent an email to the registry office in Düsseldorf in February received a reply in May. Nothing worked on the phone, and the marriage office was closed to the public until recently. Everywhere city administrations are screaming the alarm. Corona and home office has thoroughly mixed it up and now the number of illnesses is increasing again. Others, like the Düsseldorf registry office, are stuck in digitization processes in which everything goes worse at the beginning before it starts to get better.
The city of Bonn therefore sent a message to its citizens in April, warning of its own collapse: The large number of refugees from Ukraine, the management of the corona pandemic and considerable staff shortages “are currently presenting the city administration with major challenges”. . The city leaders are therefore asking the people of Bonn to be patient. According to city director Wolfgang Fuchs, the personnel situation is tight: in addition to vacancies, the corona pandemic is still having an impact on the employment situation. Added to this are the consequences of taking in refugees from Ukraine. “The city administration has been in permanent crisis mode for a good two years,” says Mayor Katja Dörner. In 2022 alone, there were around 900 quarantine cases in the Bonn city administration by April among city employees who were absent for up to ten days or more in the event of illness.
Others, more or less bluntly, advise their citizens not to bother them with their concerns. The town of Eschwege issued a statement at the end of June in which it announced that the town hall was open to “walk-in customers” for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic – for a total of seven and a half hours a week. “Spontaneous visits can unfortunately lead to long waiting times,” says the city administration as a preventive measure.
The article “The long wait: why Germany is no longer moving forward” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.