LA PAZ – The strike by transport workers to protest the decree toughening sanctions on drivers and companies involved in accidents was only partially adhered to on Wednesday in the Bolivian province of La Paz but it resulted in one person injured, several arrested and two buses destroyed.
The 48-hour strike was called by the rural union of public transportation drivers in the La Paz region and was conducted Wednesday morning with blockades thrown up at several points on roadways in the area, although these impediments were later removed by the police.
The demonstrators complained that at the roadblock in Apacheta where police intervened to open the highway linking the cities of La Paz and Oruro a man was wounded in the leg by a shotgun pellet and police arrested four others.
The arrests have not yet been confirmed by the Government Ministry, however.
Deputy Government Minister Gustavo Torrico, who called the transport workers to a meeting Wednesday afternoon to “seek a solution to the drivers’ protest,” went to Apacheta.
After meeting with Torrico, the drivers began a vigil and threatened to block the roads again if their four arrested companions are not released.
Meanwhile, a police source reported that at another blockade point – at the Achica Arriba toll center – interprovincial transport workers hurled stones at two buses that were trying to get past them, damaging them both.
The drivers are opposing a highway safety decree that was recently approved by the government and orders the removal of the vehicle from service for a year and cancellation of the bus driver’s license for good when he has an accident while driving under the influence of alcohol.
The transport workers said they agreed with the sanctions against drivers who operate their vehicles while drunk, but not with the removal of the vehicles from service since they are the very source of their jobs at the transport firms.
According to government statistics, each year more than 1,000 people die on Bolivia’s roadways in traffic accidents. EFE