Haiti : Strike of Public Transport against price increase of petrol products

mercredi 13 juin 2007

Translated from French by Menno Ernst

Tuesday 12th June 2007

P-au-P, June 12th, 2007 [AlterPresse] --- Hundreds of people, students, young girls and young boys, women and men, are walking around by foot or are waiting, at different crossroads in the metropolitan area of the capital, to find some kind of transport vehicle together during the first ours of this Tuesday 12th of June, notifies the online agency AlterPresse.

Taxis, vans and other tap tap (name given to public transport vehicles) are very rare in various streets of Port-au-Prince, in the north and in the south, from the east to the west. Only motorcycle taxis, bicycles and private cars are driving around in the streets with passengers on board.

This strike of the public transport sector, pulled by the drivers for Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th June 2007, risks affecting the students of the 6th year fondamentale (old certificate of primary studies) who have to undergo official state tests during these two days. The pupils from other classes, who are also in their exam period, are equally held back to go to school.

The state vehicles, promised by the minister of education for the transport of students facing the announced strike, aren’t noticeable at the beginning of the morning on the 12th of June. Meanwhile, here and there, several national policemen, of who traffic policemen and policewomen, are visible at different street intersections.

Several wage-workers, living far away from their work places, could also experience difficulties to move and thus to fulfill their professional obligations because of the paralysis of activities that are standing out.

The public transport drivers are protesting against a recent price increase of fuel that has been creating disagreements between tap tap drivers and passengers since next week.

The government of Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis hasn’t taken a single arrangement concerning the prices of multiple tours, arbitrarily set by the public transport drivers since the price increase of petrol products at the pump on Saturday 2nd June 2007.

In spite of the credit granted to Haiti by Venezuela since Mai 2006 to buy petrol products at preferential conditions, the national authorities argue that a price rising of gasoline on the national market, which is of great strategic importance for the Haitian population, is due to augmentations on the world market price.

Numerous sectors fear the multiple effects of the price augmentation of petrol products on those of primary consumption goods.

In the first weekend of June 2007 the petrol products (91- and 95-octane gasoline) have undergone a new considerable price raise on the Haitian national market, worrying the Haitian population who’s already facing all kinds of socioeconomic problems.

Gasoline 95 which was sold at the pump stations at 173 gourds (36,7553 gourds=1 American dollar) has now raised to 209 gourds. Gasoline 91 experienced a new increase at the pump, where it is vended at 209 gourds compared to 171 gourds before.

These new prices, displayed at the fuel pumps since the morning of Saturday 2nd of June 2007, continue to create frictions between drivers and passengers who don’t agree on the exact price of a trip ; while governmental authorities act as if they’re not aware of the demands of the transporters’ syndicates for a price reduction of petrol products. [rc apr 12/06/2007 7 :00]