Nicosia urban taxi drivers started a series of weekly protests early on Tuesday against price inflation which they said affects their income.
Professional taxi drivers from Nicosia and Famagusta gathered in their cars in Lykavitos from where they drove to Athalassa avenue and Strovolos towards the roundabout outside the presidential palace. From there, they will drive to Ayios Dometios crossing point and then, around 2.30pm to the finance ministry, the association’s spokesman Vasilis Yiotis told the Cyprus News Agency.
He rubbished claims that taxi drivers are protesting to be allowed to cross to the north to fill their tanks with cheap petrol, but said they were protesting against high prices in general and not just fuel.
Taxi drivers do not urge anyone to break the law nor to purchase fuel or other products from the occupied areas, the spokesman said, but called on the authorities to “make it clear” that the same things apply to everyone crossing to and from the government-controlled areas.
“For the past ten days, we have not seen anyone in charge to come out and say that these apply and apply to everyone regarding bringing products to the Republic of Cyprus from the crossing points,” Yiotis said.
He added that this creates “unfair competition” and promotes piracy as some unlicensed taxi drivers do cross to the north and buy cheap petrol, thus can offer cheaper fares.
The possibility to increase fares due to price inflation was rejected by the association, Yiotis said.
Meanwhile, police warned drivers that the taxi drivers’ protest is expected to affect traffic in areas of Nicosia, especially on Strovolos and Athalassa avenues.
Drivers were called on to use the Acropolis and Niki avenues in Strovolos, Archangelos avenue in Parisinos and Griva Digenis avenue in Engomi, and to avoid Strovolos and Athalassa avenues especially the section from the junction of Strovolos and Athalassa avenues to the roundabout next to the Presidential Palace.
The taxi drivers caused traffic chaos last Tuesday when they blocked the roundabout outside the presidential palace before moving to the Ayios Dhometios crossing point.
The protests were sparked after a driver who was due to cross to the north some two weeks ago was told by customs, they would check the vehicle’s fuel gauge to make sure he did not attempt to fill it with fuel.
Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said they would take measures to protect professional taxi drivers from those offering such services illegally with law amendments. He also said his ministry would review the taxi fares, that now are based on 2008 prices, so that they are not forced to fill their tanks in the north.
The taxi drivers said they would launch as of Tuesday weekly mobilisations “until a resolution – apology for being tarnished for defending the freedom of the rights of every law-abiding citizen.”