[Article updated on March 21 at 14:30]
Blockade protests are planned in several locations around France today (March 21), as professional drivers call for greater governmental support amid rising fuel prices.
Blockades are expected to take place in Bouches-du-Rhône, Doubs, Somme, Manche, Pas-de-Calais, Nord and Charente-Maritime, involving HGV, taxi, coach and construction industry drivers.
It comes after the government unveiled its ‘resilience plan’ financial package, aimed at helping households and businesses to cope with high energy and fuel costs.
The plan is in addition to a 15 cent per litre discount being brought in for individuals and businesses on almost all fuel types from April 1. Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari is also due to meet with representatives from industries which are heavily dependent on driving and fuel to discuss further support measures.
Read more: Energy, fuel, transport: France’s ‘resilience’ financial aid plan
Read more: French fuel prices to be reduced by 15 euro cents per litre in April
The Organisation des transporteurs routiers européens (OTRE) welcomed the measures “with satisfaction” and noted “the prime minister’s desire to bring together professional transport organisations around the transport minister to outline the details of additional aids to combat the losses made over recent weeks.”
However, the federation also judged the government’s current promises to be “insufficient,” calling for “a financial aid which is direct, with complementary measures per vehicle.”
Here is what to expect in some areas:
Tourist coach and taxi drivers did not receive any specific aid in the government’s resilience plan announcement. They are therefore planning a blockade around Marseille.
A taxi motorcade has already set off for the city centre along the A50, with another arriving via the A7, and another left from Port-de-Bouc to the north-west of Marseille at 08:30 this morning.
The three convoys will meet at the Clé Sud area of Miramas before continuing on. Coach drivers will be participating in demonstrations in Marseille city centre.
"Diesel is costing us too much: taxi [drivers] which work more than 60 hours per week and who struggle to cover their costs are now having to pay €400-€600 more each month," said Yazid Ziani, the vice-president of the Fédération nationale du taxi. "We can't do it anymore. Our idea is to ask for compensation from the state," perhaps in the form of a VAT reduction to 5.5%.
Significant disruption is expected in Doubs today because of a ‘snail speed’ operation organised by the department’s taxis.
The convoy left the Franche-Comté TGV des Auxons station and other locations at 07:00 this morning, and is forming a ring around Besançon.
Pas-de-Calais and Nord
In Nord, blockades are expected on the A1 and A23. HGV drivers had already begun to protest at 05:00 at a transport terminal around Dourges (near Lens) and another in Lesquin, preventing lorries from entering or exiting.
Christophe Caron, who runs a transport company near Arras, told Franceinfo that there are around 30 lorries gathered in Dourges, Rouen and Lesquin.
The government has promised €400million to large goods vehicle companies, or €1,300 per lorry. However, Mr Caron said that this does not: “equal a full tank.
“A full lorry tank is currently more than €2,000. We are losing more money by driving the vehicles than by leaving them at the depot.”
A blockade began at dawn today at the A1 junction near Roye, in the east of the department. Around 50 HGVs were involved, but the action ended after around an hour and a half. In Calvados, protest action was also taken this morning by fishermen, but ended around 08:30.
Since 05:00 this morning, around 100 independent drivers and construction industry workers have been creating a blockade at the Guilberville interchange, between the RN174 and the A84, and on the road between Saint-Lô and Bayeux.
The vehicles are blocking the passage of lorries but also of cars, according to France Bleu Cotentin.
This comes despite the fact that OTRE called off protest action that it had planned following the government’s €400million aid announcement.
The Fédération nationale des transporteurs routiers is, however, still considering action.
A blockade is disrupting traffic around Lagord and the bypass to the north of La Rochelle this morning. Vehicles are currently only able to drive slowly along one lane.
The department’s prefecture has also warned that conditions may be difficult on the N11 and the N237, advising motorists to keep to departmental and local roads.
A blockade is also being put in place in front of the RTCR depot in Lagord, meaning that Yélo buses are struggling to operate. There are currently no services running on the 1b, 7a, 8, 16, 11 or 13 line.
Morbihan, Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine
Traffic was moving very slowly on the N165 around Lorient (Morbihan), and protesters began 'snail speed' convoy between Quimper and Brest in Finistère. In Ille-et-Villaine, there was disruption on the N137 around Chartres-de-Bretagne.
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