Gilets Jaunes: Drivers stranded as protests continue

Motorists spent Tuesday night in their cars on the A10 in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and protesters have called for a mass demonstration in Paris on Saturday

21 November 2018
By Connexion journalist

Drivers were stranded overnight by gilets jaune blockades on the A10 in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, it was reported as the protests entered a fifth day with no end in sight - and a demonstration planned in Paris on Saturday.

The stranded motorists received water and food from civil protection authorities early on Wednesday, after the Virsac toll area was blocked in both directions, leading to tailbacks of 10km on the northbound section.

Entry to the motorway has been blocked Libourne, Saint-Antoine, Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Ambès, Ambares-et-Lagrave and Saint-Loubès, with protesters forcing vehicles already on the route to leave at the same locations.

Meanwhile, a 27-year-old motorcyclist died in hospital on Tuesday, after he was involved in a collision a truck the day previously, near a roadblock in the Drôme. Another 530 have been injured since Saturday, 17 of the seriously.

For motorists who have to travel on Wednesday, a number of app-based map services, including Apple Maps, Waze, Google Maps, Mappy or the official Bison Futé application regularly update information on which roads are affected by protests. The Bison Futé app is updated every three to six minutes.

Blockades and protests were taking place in 10 regions on Wednesday, according to a list from francetvinfo - including barrages filtrantes, or filtered blockades at La Chapelle-Saint-Aubin, Champagné, Sablé-sur-Sarthe and Ecommoy, in Pays de la Loire.

The number of protesters taking part has dwindled since the first blockades on Saturday, when nearly 300,000 people manned barricades and took part in other forms of protest. On Tuesday, that figure had dropped to 20,000.

After taking a light-handed approach to policing protests at the weekend, police increasingly taken a tougher stance. On Wednesday the Interior Ministry said road blockades at some 30 strategic sites had been cleared since Monday, including those set up at fuel depots.

Some of those blockades have returned, however, according to reports on Wednesday.

Further protests are planned at the weekend with calls on social media networks for protesters to "block" Paris on Saturday, November 24 "on foot, on horseback, or by car".

President Emmanuel Macron has called for "dialogue", while authorities have banned a protest at Place de la Concorde in Paris. But, the gilets jaunes have described themselves as a "grassroots movement", which as grown and spread by social media. As a result, there is no recognisable hierarchy for authorities to communicate with.

On Tuesday, MPs voted in favour of the controversial 2019 budget, which will see taxes on fuel increase by 6.5 centimes for diesel and 2.9 centimes for petrol. The bill passed with 345 voting in favour, 200 voting against, with 10 abstentions.

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