Carriers protesting across the country. Key roads were blocked by heavy trucks and buses. The demands remain unchanged – reduction of the excise tax on fuels by 50%, temporary elimination of the supplement for environmentally friendly fuel, and postponement of the planned expansion of the toll system.
Hundreds of trucks and buses gathered on Tsarigradsko Boulevard in Sofia on Tuesday morning.
At 09:30 a.m. 120 trucks and 50 buses had to leave for the city center. However, they were not allowed by the police. The traffic police explained that they did not allow them because they are fulfilling the coordination letter of the mayor of Sofia.
At 11:00 a.m. the carriers decided to block for a short time the traffic in the direction of Sofia at the traffic light of “Vrana”. Subsequently, the leftmost lane was released.
“Tensions continue to rise. Mr. Sabev and Mr. Karadjov add fuel to the fire. After their speeches yesterday, protests were organized in many cities, where they were not announced. The wave has started, the protest will be large-scale today”, said Magdalena Miltenova from the Confederation of Bus Carriers. According to her, with the reduction of the excise tax on fuels and the elimination of the bio-additive, the fuels will be cheaper by between 40 and 50 cents.
Regarding the toll system, Miltenova said changes in the middle of the year would lead many companies to bankruptcy.
“We see another provocation by the government. Even at the moment there is a stopped car of the Automobile Administration to check the trucks. We have come to a peaceful protest. The state shows how it can repress, how it can impose repression on the united transport branch”, said Dimitar Dimitrov from the Chamber of Road Carriers.
More than 300 trucks and buses have blocked all entrances and exits in Plovdiv since early in the morning. On Asenovgradsko blvd. cars were allowed only through the left lane. By noon the column of protesters there is 3 km.
“We continue to demand the resignation of three ministers. You saw what happened when you tried to talk. If the demands are not met, there is a risk of bankruptcy – of transport companies and bus carriers“, said Iliya Kosturski, member of the Board of the Union of International Carriers.
“We want to stop the robbery, i.e. by reducing the excise tax, excluding the organic supplement, the price of fuel would automatically fall between 40 and 45 cents from the current price. And this would stop the rise in prices and services in everything,” said Iliya Kosturski.
For his part, Vasil Pironkov, owner of a transport company, said the problem had been going on for years. “It is currently increasing with the growth of fuels. EU Regulation 13 70 states that municipalities and the state, when outsourcing passenger transport, must pay the actual costs incurred and 5% profitability. There are no feeder companies. Only part of funds are paid under this regulation,” he explained.
“As for the buses, it’s a disaster. Each bus every day is a minimum of between 150 and 200 levs at a loss. This is a social service. There is no way to further burden this transport by participating in public procurement. Ticket prices are extremely inadequate,” Pironkov said.
In Burgas, the protest began with a procession. Expecting dialogue with the authorities to resume and the government to compromise.
“If no one listens to us, on May 18 we will move to the closure of retail chains, roads and borders,” said Vasil Mihalev, deputy chairman of the National Freight Association.
“Everyone has a car, the car is not a luxury. With the abolition of the excise tax and the bio-supplement we will ease the transport and thus we will keep the inflation in the country. The math is very simple,” said Svetoslav Dimitrov, owner of a transport company.
“To say, ‘we have no money,’ and to make it clear to society from now on who will be responsible for the broken relationships. I will ask the Minister of Transport to say why he subsidizes railway transport and why BDZ is privileged over those who use bus transport?” Asked Rumen Hristov, owner of the bus company Avtobusni Prevozi.
“We want to solve the problem of financing transportation to small settlements. If this does not happen, they will be left without transport after the expiration of contracts. The municipalities of Sredets, Malko Tarnovo, Ruen, Sungunlare and Karnobat are threatened by this. Revenues are low”, warned Rumen Hristov, owner of transport companies.
Protesters are also obstructing traffic on the Maritza highway, near the Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint. Periodically, people block the road in the direction of Haskovo and thus slow down traffic.
Last week, some carriers left the meeting with Prime Minister Kiril Petkov in a scandal, at which measures against rising fuel prices were to be discussed.
Meanwhile, the taxi industry will decide when and how to join the national protest in the transport sector. Several unions are meeting on Tuesday to discuss the case. The industry is demanding help from the state, again due to high fuel prices.