Friday, April 16, 2010

No End In Site As Truck Drivers Strike In Ivory Coast Continues

Fuel Blockade may be Lifted However
Shipping News Feature

IVORY COAST (COTE D’IVOIRE) - The truck drivers’ strike, which started on 12th April, is set to continue but is not having the widespread effect which many anticipated. The dispute began after two more fuel tax rises caused drivers, busy shipping the last of the cocoa bean harvest to the ports, to begin a blockade which included filling stations. Other sectors of industry are similarly unhappy after transport and heating fuel prices rose 40% in the past few months.

There has been a mixed reaction from drivers, many of whom have continued working with general freight consignments seemingly bypassing the barricades, but many farmers without their own transport have found it impossible to ship their cocoa crop to market. Abidjan port says some stocks are still arriving but volumes are down. The strike is now affecting the price of beans which is rising due to the shortages.

Reports state that the main problems have been caused by the lack of labour to move goods when they arrive at the docks. The strike has been affecting public transport and many trucks are simply arriving at the docks having beaten the blockade to find there is no possibility of discharging until workers arrive in sufficient numbers.

The Ivory Coast now has the highest priced fuel in Francophone West Africa and the Government have offered to make a token reduction which was reportedly dismissed by the transport union, the Association for Consumers, as insufficient. The situation was exacerbated when public sector workers were awarded a large pay rise recently to assist them in the constrained economic climate. This has merely incensed workers in other sectors particularly the banks, taxi and bus drivers and the freight drivers who perceive a divided society.

More workers are likely to join the protests tomorrow if the Government remain inactive but a union official reportedly said that the blocking of filling station forecourts is liable to be lifted today to enable people to fuel their vehicles.