Transport strike gains momentum; gov’t takes initial measures

Trucks Truck
(Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN Truck drivers and owners continued a strike Tuesday, joined by some minibus owners, against a hike in the price of oil derivatives, Khaberni reported.اضافة اعلان

The protest began Monday with truck owners in Aqaba and Maan, who decried the increase in fuel prices, the deterioration of the shipping sector, and a four-year freeze of minimum wage in the transportation sector.

On Tuesday, dozens of drivers and owners of water tankers in Amman’s Abdoun and Dabouq neighborhoods joined the widespread strikes, as did drivers of buses, tankers, and tractor-trailers in several other governorates.

Owners of trucks and heavy machinery in the Shafa Badran area of Amman also joined the strike, with a video on social media showing large numbers of trucks gathered at the locale.

In Karak, public transport owners also announced a strike to protest fuel prices, according to a local media outlet.

Protesters stressed that they could no longer afford the prices of fuel, which has been increased four times already. They called on the government to reduce the prices of oil derivatives so that they could continue to work and make a decent living.

Striking owners and drivers of trucks refused to transport goods from Aqaba and Mafraq governorates to their final destinations.

Protesters called for an increase in passenger fares as a temporary solution, and threatened to continue the strike and take further escalatory action if their demands were not met.

Drivers of buses operating on external transport lines later joined the strike, as did bus drivers going to Mutah University and ride-share drivers, according to Jordan 24.

Lawrence Al-Rifai, spokesperson for the Ride-Share Applications Drivers Union, said that members planned to gather Wednesday, in the Shafa Badran area, between the Applied University and Jordan Street roundabouts.

According to Rifai, the captains have been left with no other option following the latest fuel price hike.

Prime Minister, Bisher Al-Khasawneh said on Monday, during a Lower House session, that the government will not abandon the policy of adjusting fuel prices according to international prices because the “Treasury does not have the luxury of subsidizing fuel products”.

He said that the government spend JD550 million subsidizing fuel products in 2022, adding that it would not continue to do so.

Transport Minister Maher Abu Samen was quoted on Tuesday as saying that a committee comprising representatives of the Ministry of Transport, the Land Transport Regulatory Commission (LTRC), and the Truck Owners Syndicate will be formed to discuss issues faced by the sector and find means of solving them.

Certain administrative problems, arrangements, and organizational matters concerning truck drivers will be coordinated and resolved in the future, Abu Samen said.

Minister of Government Communications Faisal Al-Shboul said that the syndicate had announced the start of the strike and made its demands known, but then announced that it will stop the strike.

According to a statement issued by the syndicate, starting with 2023, cargo fare will be similar to that set by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Supply, which fluctuates according to the prices of oil derivatives.

Abu Samen noted that compensating cargo truck owners for the high prices of fuel has nothing to do with to the strike, that there are other means of compensation. He said the ministry had agreed with the syndicate to have the LTRC issue a decision on Tuesday.

According to Al-Ghad News, striking truckers in Aqaba continued their protest despite an agreement between the Truck Owners Association and the LTRC.

The agreement, announced by syndicate chief Mohammad Al-Dawood, was rejected by strikers across the country, who said that they were “surprised” by both the agreement and the announcement that the strike had ended, given that they had not been consulted.

According to Al Ghad News, the LTRC decided Tuesday to take the following measures to address the issue:

First, the commission amended freight transportation fees, bringing them on par with the transportation fees approved by the Industry Ministry.

Second, an additional JD1.5 was added to transport fees per tonne of phosphate, potash, and sulfur.

Third, the LTRC raised the price of shipping containers weighing up to 25 tonnes from JD448 JD500 between Amman and Aqaba.

Fourth, fees will be calculated to take fuel prices into account as of next year. As a result these fees may fluctuate.

Fifth, new wages will be decided as of Wednesday, December 7.

On the basis of the aforementioned points, a committee comprising all concerned parties will be formed to discuss a number of challenges facing the transport sector.

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