Striking hauliers agreed to meet Prime Minister

Striking hauliers agreed to meet Prime Minister

Hauliers in Slovakia continued their strike on Monday, blocking most border crossings in both directions but allowing cars and buses to pass. However, in the afternoon, they cleared the roads in reaction to Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini's offer. Earlier in the day, the PM had said that the Government was ready to hold talks with the protesters if they unblocked the border crossings that they had been obstructing since early morning.

The Union of Slovak Road Hauliers (UNAS), one of the strike's organizers, is demanding that road taxes be halved and that the collection of road tolls via an electronic system be suspended.

The Finance Ministry's offer to lower road taxes by 12.5% was declined. The Transport Ministry refuses the suspension of the toll agreement. According to the ministry, it would lead to charges against the state and it would allow foreign hauliers to use Slovak roads for free.

Another organisation taking part in the strike, Road Hauliers Association ČESMAD Slovakia has called on all hauliers participating in the protests to refrain from further blockades of road infrastructure in Slovakia, as well as other activities that might escalate the situation and put the ongoing communication with state officials into a stalemate.

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini convened a meeting with the transport, interior, finance and economy ministers due to the hauliers' strike for Monday. He calls on striking hauliers to leave the roads and return to the negotiating table.

The strike came in reaction to the findings of the Slovak Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ). In November 2019, the NKÚ informed the government that the collection of money from the electronic road and motorway toll carried out by private SkyToll company was unprofitable for Slovakia. The country receives approximately 45% of it. During the nine years of the toll's operation, SkyToll has collected almost €1.58 billion, but only a little over €710 million has gone into the state budget. After 14 years of operation, the system priced at €262 million should have ended up in the hands of the state. However, the agreement does not include the transfer of the system to the state. The NKÚ informed the government that after 2022 the electronic toll system itself would belong to the private company.

Mojmir Prochazka, Photo: TASR