Taxi drivers call for general strike Wednesday

Protesters block the road in front of a working taxi driver during a nationwide strike for the public transportation sector in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, April 26, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s taxi drivers union announced a strike Wednesday following an unsuccessful meeting with Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi to set a ceiling for the prices of gasoline.

“We call on all drivers to strike next Wednesday to protest the increasing prices of fuel after we exhausted all efforts and reached a deadlock with officials,” the statement said.

The statement reiterated the association’s demand for a LL25,000 ceiling on 20 liters for gasoline and LL20,000 on diesel.

Earlier Monday, Safadi received a delegation representing various transportation sector associations.

After the meeting, Abdel Amir Najde reiterated the drivers’ demands for a cap on the prices of fuel, cracking down on drivers with forged transportation license plates and increasing NSSF benefits for drivers.

During the meeting Safadi said he was opposed to any new subsidies as well as public sector wage increases, arguing inflation would negate any positive impacts of the raise. “The Finance Ministry is keen to curb inflation so citizens can benefit from a wage increase or subsidy without reflecting negatively on the economy and living conditions,” he told the delegate.

Safadi said he was considering ways that drivers can benefit from a $65 million World Bank project to develop urban transport for Greater Beirut. The project aims to provide investments to maximize the efficiency of transport infrastructure.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 16, 2012, on page 5.




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