Bolivian Riders Face Fare Hike Despite Scrapping of Fuel Increase

LA PAZ – The Bolivian public transport drivers’ unions decided to raise the fares on public transportation between 22 and 24 percent despite the fact that President Evo Morales’s administration cancelled the recent hike in the cost of liquid fuels, the press reported.

The Union Confederation of Drivers of Bolivia met on Friday in the eastern city of Santa Cruz and decided – beginning on Monday – to implement the fare hike, which will vary by region, after having kept fares frozen for more than a decade.

A technical and financial study the Transportation Authority ordered a private consulting firm to undertake in 2010 found that the fares could rise by 42 percent, the executive secretary for the sector, Franklin Duran, said.

The transport workers have the right to an increase in fares “because they have family” like any worker who demands a salary hike, Duran said.

Morales, at a press conference held Saturday in the central province of Cochabamba, lamented the transport workers’ decision and asked the country’s city halls “to work … to halt any fare increase” for public transportation.

The government raised the cost of the main liquid fuels in the country between 57 percent and 82 percent two weeks ago, a move that spurred the transport workers to raise fares between 50 percent and 100 percent, as well as sparking a rise in food prices.

A wave of protests by unions and neighborhood organizations forced Morales to reverse the measure, which had been taken to direct to other areas the resources that had been allotted for subsidizing the cost of fuels in the domestic market and halting fuel smuggling.

Unions and Indian groups have asked Morales to replace some of his Cabinet officers whom they blame for the latest social conflict resulting from the so-called “gasoline blow,” something that has been discounted by the president.

Source: Latin American Herald Tribune

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