The SaniStop story: sanitary facilities opened for truck drivers across Germany during Covid-19 crisis

5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 25, 2020

Freshening up, taking a shower, finding a toilet – elementary needs for truck drivers. However, during the Covid-19 lockdown it has been impossible for many truck drivers to use sanitary and washing facilities.

“Usually we are allowed to use customers‘ washrooms,” said Erlenfried Galuba, a driver for the Fehrenkötter haulage company from Ladbergen. “But since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, many hygienic facilities have been closed to us truck drivers. The first thoughts of every company were for their own employees. We just fell through the system!”

Galuba‘s boss Joachim Fehrenkötter is the managing director and owner of Fehrenkötter and also the chairman of DocStop e.V., an association which has been committed to providing outpatient medical care for truck drivers since 2007. Now, DocStop has found another field of activity in the sanitary emergency triggered by the Covid-19 crisis. Within a week DocStop had created a network of 150 companies in Germany who were prepared to make their washrooms available to truck drivers during the pandemic. This was the birth of the DocStop initiative SaniStop.

“It is with great respect that everyone talks about the heroes of the road, who during the crisis are making sure we are supplied with the things we need daily, and yet no one will let our staff use their sanitary facilities although that is of the greatest importance in the current situation,” said Fehrenkötter.

Fehrenkötter driver Erlenfried Galuba found toilets were closed to truck drivers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just days after the lockdown was announced the SaniStop activist found a partner in Ralf Merkelbach, key account manager for large fleets in Europe at BPW Bergische Achsen KG, whose idea it was to install mobile sanitary containers at important locations. They were joined by the Federation of Road Haulage, Logistics and Waste Removal, the Logistics Alliance Germany and the Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, as well as a series of business donors who supported the measures and integrated them into the industry initiative #LogistikHilft founded by Fraunhofer IML. This was under the patronage of Andreas Scheuer, Minister for Transport, and the parliamentary state secretary Steffen Bilger, coordinator for haulage transport and logistics for the federal government.

Daimler Truck AG also joined the group of supporters and provided €7500 (about NZ$13,000) for the maintenance and care of hygienic facilities. The DocStop website,, shows where SaniStop containers have been put up along a route.

Covid-19 presented haulage companies and their drivers with extreme challenges. Haulier Joachim Fehrenkötter with truck driver Erlenfried Galuba and his new Mercedes-Benz Actros.

Despite this solution the Covid-19 pandemic has and continues to present great challenges to road haulage companies and their staff. There has been, for example, a massive drop in orders in some sectors, which is threatening jobs and sometimes even companies.

“We have been hit too, our orders have dropped by 25 percent,” said Fehrenkötter, whose haulage company has 125 trucks and specialises in the transportation of agricultural machinery and cars. Just as serious are the changes to daily processes within haulage companies from scheduling to the workshops and warehousing, quarantine, working from home, staff who are in high-risk groups – no company remains untouched.

“We have achieved a lot with SaniStop and #LogistikHilft and I am delighted to see increasing recognition of truck drivers as a professional group during the crisis,” said Fehrenkötter. “But we can‘t stop now. Even after the crisis there will still be considerable need for improvement regarding parking and sanitary facilities for truck drivers.”