| 10 December 2023, Sunday |

Dispute flares up over hike in public transport costs

A dispute flared up on Thursday between the transport workers union and land transport workers unions, sources told Sawt Beirut International, saying the first one insists on raising the fee for shared taxis to 5,000 Lebanese pounds while the second one calls for keeping the fee unchanged.

Bassam Tlais, head of the Unions and Syndicates of the Land Transport Sector, had denied reports that the union has increased the fee for shared taxis to 5,000 Lebanese pounds, saying the fee is exclusively and officially issued by the Minister of Public Works and Transport.

In an interview with Al Markazia news agency, Tlais said a new exceptional fee will be adopted for the nationwide lockdown period only, noting it is currently under discussion and will be set in agreement with the Ministry of Public Works in a bid to compensate drivers and abstain from imposing further expenses on citizens.

“Therefore, drivers won’t have to suffer losses and random pricing will be avoided,” he added.

“The Director General of Transport conducted a study as a prelude to determine this fee, which I received today and will examine soon. Hopefully, it will be announced within 48 hours,” Tlais noted, saying that anything said otherwise is incorrect.

When asked about the strike and demonstrations previously called for by the union across the Lebanese territories, Tlais said the course of the strike will be determined depending on how the situation will evolve and on whether demands will be met.

Public transport drivers had called for fares to be raised after a fall of nearly 80% in the local currency since last year that has slashed jobs and pushed many into poverty.

Cab drivers, who welcome the price hike, complain that nothing is cheap anymore, saying that if their car gets broken, they wouldn’t be able to fix it, in reference to the rising cost of repairs in the import-dependent country.