Around 40 Nicosia taxis lined up in front of Parliament on Thursday to protest against an ongoing disregard for their problems by the authorities.
“This is the first of this type of protest,” Panayiotis Kilillis from the Nicosia taxi drivers association commented, “around three or four more of the same kind will follow, few cars, without work stoppage, without strike, without closing roads.”
“We are giving the authorities time to respond to the demands we have for the survival of our profession. The next protests will be by the end of February, and if they mock us like they have done for at least the past four years… if nothing changes so we can survive, we will leave people in the streets and the government or whoever wants can take them.”
“We are here peacefully, we didn’t come to cause trouble,” taxi driver Manos Vardakis said. “If there is interest from Parliament then this is over, if not we will go on using other ways. This is just a small gathering today with cars from Nicosia but the problem is in all areas.”
Kilillis explained that the high working costs of taxi drivers threatened the profession’s survival, and there was a lot the state could to help, such as lowering the cost of petrol, insurance, or an exemption from VAT, instead of promoting only public buses.
In response to the line up, Transport Minister Marios Demetriades said there have been too many meetings with the taxi drivers, but another meeting with the participation of the mayor of Nicosia would take place.
“It is our constant attempt to find solutions to the problems they face,” he said.
For his part, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee Antonis Antoniou said that a letter outlining the drivers’ problems would be delivered to the committee.
“The sector of rural and urban taxis has been affected by the crisis,” the chairman stated, “but the state is not able to channel resources to specific sectors only, but the state’s resources are limited and should be used for the development of all production sectors.”
Antoniou asked taxi drivers to find solutions that would satisfy some of their key demands through dialogue without causing transport problems.