Egypt’s nationwide truck drivers’ strike could push inflation up

Truck drivers have continued on Saturday to protest for a second day against a decision by the government to increase taxes on trucks and fines for excess cargo.

Truck drivers started striking on Friday to protest a series of government decisions that would raise taxes, reduce the four-year grace period for trailers to two years, and ban truck drivers from using highways on Thursdays and Fridays.

In Port Said, which has the third largest port in Egypt, cargo piled up at both the Port Said and East Port Said ports due to the strike.

In Upper Egypt, Nasr Farouq, the president of the truck drivers’ syndicate in Minya, said drivers of around 1000 tractors are continuing their protest.

Farouq told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the drivers have been paying their taxes–which range between LE100 and LE500–regularly. He added that the minister’s decision in this regard is still unclear and has raised fears among drivers who think that they will be required to pay thousands in taxes every year.

In the industrial city of 6th October, hundreds of drivers have joined the protest.

Abdel Raouf Nagdi, a car broker, said factories have been badly affected by the strike after the government insisted on approving the tax hike. He added it will threaten factories and the real estate market.

Shabaan al-Saedi, head of a drivers’ association, held the government responsible for the deteriorating living conditions of drivers and threatened to continue the strike until drivers’ demands are satisfied.

Drivers also said drivers from Gharbiya, Suhag and Beheira have joined in the strike.

Osama Zaghloul, a truck owner, said the government’s decision was implemented indiscriminately, even though trucks vary in sizes and types.

He added that the decision will likely raise the prices of goods transported as well, a move that could further contribute to pushing up the already double-digit inflation rates.

Truck owners have submitted a memorandum to the General Syndicate for Truck Drivers requesting the intervention of the Finance Minister to return the tax to its previous level.

Two years ago the government said it would ban all trailers starting January 2011, claiming they are responsible for 60 percent of all road crashes in Egypt.

Truck owners say the decision means that more than 60,000 trucks–with a total value of LE1.5 billion–will be scrapped as a result.

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