Truckers’ action revives fuel rush

Fears of fuel shortages returned yesterday, as hundreds of truckers protesting plans to liberalize their sector stopped deliveries and parked their vehicles along major highways. After rumors emerged that some truck drivers were planning to drive into central Athens to stage a protest, police were dispatched to the junctions at Metamorphosi, Aspropyrgos and Haidari in northwestern Attica and Neo Faliro, in southern Attica, to block them. Police are on standby again today as it is thought the truckers will try to drive into central Athens with the aim of reaching Parliament where a draft bill foreseeing the liberalization of their profession is to be debated. Unionists representing the truckers insisted yesterday that their action would not disrupt deliveries of fuel and food as they had done in July. But despite the truck drivers’ reassurances, motorists waited in long lines outside gas stations for a second day to fill up on fuel. The peak in demand yesterday resulted in some gas stations running low on supplies. It also triggered widespread profiteering, leading the government to declare a ceiling of 1.47 euros per liter for unleaded gasoline in Attica. Government inspectors said that regular inspections were being held to crack down on gas station managers found to be profiteering. Supreme Court prosecutor Yiannis Tentes said all violators would be brought before a prosecutor. The government wants to fully liberalize the road freight market within three years to bring down transport costs, which traders say push up the prices of many goods. But the truckers complain that opening up their sector to competition is unfair to existing operators, some of whom have paid more than 200,000 euros for their licenses.

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