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Posted by portugalpress on May 28, 2018

Following on from chaos provoked by a truck drivers’ blockade in Brazil, truckies in Portugal have followed suit, saying it’s time the country woke up to the increasing financial demands on the sector.

From 8am today, drivers throughout the country have been on notice to get out of their cabs, and stay out.

The protest, with no end in sight, is taking place 10 years since the last trucker-blockade which led to pumps running out of fuel, supermarkets running out of food, paralysis at the country’s airports and the formation of ANTP, the national association of Portuguese Transporters which is now calling the shots.

Said ANTP’s president Márcio Lopes, the sector’s revolt comes on the day fuel prices are once again increasing.

He explained: “we are responsible for 5% of GDP, and we transport the remaining 95%. Portugal has to open its eyes”.

Truckers’ demands are for “regulation of the sector, a Secretary of State Exclusively dedicated to transports, the creation of a mechanism so that inflation can be reflected in transport costs and discounts on motorway toll charges.

Today’s protest “doesn’t come from ANTP” stressed Lopes. It is a case of the association “giving voice to the discontent of truck drivers and employers, many of which are ANTP members”.

As reports in today’s press confirm similar action in Brazil has already brought the troubled country to its knees, with over 75% of private vehicles brought to a standstill, and President Michel Temer having to call in for the support of the army.

Here, Observador says “the GNR is preparing a task force to intervene if necessary”.

Meantime, ANTRAM - the association representing employers in the sector - has stressed that Portugal “is not immune in any way” to the chaos ongoing in Brazil.

“The successive increase in diesel prices without the promised revision of ISP (petrol taxes) which has been promised by the government”, is putting massive pressure on transport businesses already struggling to survive, said the association.

For the record, the last country-wide blockade led to the introduction of motorway toll discounts at night (a perk that no longer exists) and the creation of ‘professional diesel’ which sells more cheaply to large trucks.

The problem ten years on is that professional diesel has become less and less available, and is now only accessible, in limited supply, to trucks of 35-tons and over.

As Observador explains, all other truck sizes are excluded as well as passenger transport businesses.

UPDATE: MEETING IN LISBON GIVES GOVERNMENT FOUR DAYS TO RESPOND TO DEMANDS

ANTRAM has issued a press release following a meeting with the secretary of state for infrastructures this morning, in which the association presented "a series of solutions with the objective of inverting the current situation".

The proposals would allow for the sustainability of the troubled sector and involve extending the regime of professional diesel for the next two years, increasing the quantity of diesel allowed (going from 30,000 litres to 50,000) and widening the range of vehicles that qualify (starting with trucks of just 7.5 tons).

ANTRAM is also pushing for more State support mechanisms.

A four-day period has now been given for the government to consider ANTRAM's list of demands and come back with some answers.

If no answers are forthcoming, ANTRAM says it will be "totally supportive of the actions that transport businesses decide to define".

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

Image: Line of trucks parked in Sintra and going nowhere this morning

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