Around 300 heavy transport vehicles are expected to be shut down from Monday as a form of pressure for the government to take action to address the fuel surge caused by the war in Ukraine. The shutdown was announced by the Plataforma para a Sobrevivência do Setor, a group of transport companies that met this Sunday afternoon in Castanheiro do Ribatejo.
According to Platform spokesman Paulo Paiva, during the meeting it was decided that the participating companies would stop 20% of their fleets from this Monday and indefinitely. This 20% corresponds to 300 trucks.
Speaking to CNN Portugal, Paulo Paiva presented the demands of these companies: they want access to “immediate liquidity”; suspension of fuel tax (ISP); direct discount on professional diesel from the supplier; expand access to professional diesel for vehicles over 7.5 tonnes; change of vehicles from class 4 to class 2 when paying tolls.
“If necessary, we will go to a total stop,” said Paulo Paiva, spokesman for the more than 200 freight transport businessmen who gathered in Castanheira do Ribatejo, near one of the largest logistics centers in the country.
These entrepreneurs criticize the measure already announced by the government to create a credit line of 400 million euros for companies that are experiencing sharp increases in production costs due to energy increases.
“We don’t need debt, we need immediate cost reduction. We don’t need, we don’t want, we can’t and none of us will ask for credits,” Paulo Maia told reporters at the entrance to the meeting.
“We need immediate measures to be able to work, we can’t stand these fuel prices and our customers can’t stand it. It’s not just a problem for carriers, it’s a problem for people in general. This is a chain and if we increase [os preços]everything will increase and the end consumer will pay, ”said, on the other hand, businessman Mário Norte, quoted by Agência Lusa.
The 270 businessmen gathered this Sunday represent small, medium and large transport companies who say they have no connection with the sector associations. The National Association of Public Freight Carriers (Antram), the largest association in the sector, held a meeting on Saturday where it was decided not to move, for the moment, from protest actions. Although many members wanted to organize demonstrations, the announcement of the line of credit made by the Minister of Economy gave this association a sign of the availability and understanding of the government.
Antram associates admit that the solution for freight companies to survive is to raise fares.
Road hauliers have not been affected by the measures announced by the government to mitigate the impact of rising fuel prices, which notably include the increase of the Autovoucher discount from five to 20 euros and the extension of support granted to three others for taxis and buses (now paying 30 cents per liter of fuel, instead of 10 currently).
Fuel prices have soared in recent weeks, both in the United States and Europe, reaching the highest levels in the last decade, on fears of a reduction in supply, caused by the Russian invasion from Ukraine.
In Portugal, diesel last week rose by more than 14 cents per litre, while petrol was around eight cents more expensive.
From Monday, the price of a liter of diesel should increase by 13.6 cents and that of gasoline by 9.3 cents, according to calculations made by Lusa from the figures provided by the government for the reduction of the FAI.