Truck drivers in Iran continue their strike despite promises made by the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development’s officials to raise cargo fees.
Truck drivers, who say “no more lip service”, have been on strike since May 22, protesting high expenses and low cargo fees.
For the fifth consecutive day, the strike continued on Saturday, May 26 across Iran.
“All truck drivers were on strike on Saturday in scores of cities, including, Borujen, Bushehr, Divan-Dareh, Esfarayen, Hamadan, Kermanshah, mashhad, Saqqez, Shiraz, Tabas and Takestan,’ state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported.
Images and footage received by Radio Farda show long lines of parked trucks on the roadsides across the country.
Meanwhile, hundreds of drivers have staged protest rallies in front of government offices.
Truck drivers’ strike, backed by many truck owners, started last Tuesday and soon disrupted the distribution of fuel in several larger cities. In Shiraz and Esfahan long queues were formed at the gas stations.
The impact of the strike forced the Islamic Republic’s officials to endorse truck drivers’ demands as “reasonable” and “legitimate”.
Ministry of Roads and Urban Development’s deputy for road transport affairs, Dariush Amani appeared on state-run TV on Friday evening to announce the truckers cargo fees have been officially increased ten to twenty percent.
Nevertheless, ILNA cited truck drivers as dismissing the government’s proposal, some demanding fifty a percent increase for in cargo fees.
Earlier on Thursday, the chairman of Truck Drivers Union, Mohammad Khan Bolooki had told the government’s official news agency, IRNA, "Still many truck drivers, especially in Fars province, are on strike demanding more than 20 percent increase in fees.”
Furthermore, the truckers are protesting high commissions charged by transport companies, highly expensive road tolls and government’s recent decision to stop paying them social insurance subsidies.
Truck drivers are also unhappy for being forced to install tracker devices on their vehicles and pay for the related expenses, while “only security forces, intelligence agents and the National Oil Company benefit from them”.
There are three types of truckers in Iran; those who fully own their vehicles and others who still have to pay for their trucks to government-controlled companies in installments for years. Still others, a minority, work for truck owners.
Most of the time, truck drivers find themselves working for the government, the biggest importer and distributor of strategic commodities, particularly fuel and foodstuff, based on a daily wage, or fee per kilometer.
According to the Ministry of Roads and Urban development there are currently near 370,000 trucks running in Iran, out of which 120,000 are more than 35-year old