LA PAZ – A group of Bolivian heavy cargo truckers on Sunday blocked the Tambo Quemado border crossing point into Chile to demand changes in import policy and its “debureaucratization.”
The president of the Bolivian Customs Department, Marlene Ardaya, said in an interview with state-run media that the truckers had put two padlocks on the crossing gate, “virtually closing entry into the country” and forcing customs officials to “withdraw for (their) safety.”
The truckers thus fulfilled their threat to close one of the main border crossing points between Bolivia and Chile for an indefinite period to protest the “bureaucratization” that in their opinion has entered into the import and export procedures to and from the ports of Arica and Iquique.
One of the sector’s leaders, Gustavo Rivandeneira, told the daily La Razon that the truckers are demanding the cancellation of the $12 fee for merchandise oversight and the elimination of certain procedures that “make the trucks wait up to three days at customs, which means a great economic loss.”
Ardaya said that the fee would not go to the customs department but rather to the warehouse concessionary, and thus it is a matter “among private parties.”
She added that the truckers are also demanding to be allowed to cross the border without having their cargo weighed, “something (that is) non-negotiable,” from the government’s standpoint.
“They are asking for entry without controls by customs. Who will guarantee that during the trip the merchandise will not be replaced? They must be made aware of that ... They see themselves pressured by Bolivian and Chilean customs controls, combined customs between the two that has reduced unregulated transport,” the official said.
According to local media reports, the majority of the firms affiliated with the union will be adhering to the mobilization and they warned that they will only engage in dialogue with the government of Evo Morales to halt their actions at the border crossing point.