|Page (1) of 1 - 03/06/12||email article||print page|
Gas stations in South America's largest city running dry as truckers strike
SAO PAULO (AP) ' Sao Paulo's 2,000 gas stations are rapidly running out of fuel as a strike by truck drivers who haul gas in South America's largest city entered a second day Tuesday, according to business representatives.
Truckers are protesting the city government's attempt to restrict where big trucks can drive in a metropolis infamous for streets that are congested at all hours.
Jose Gouveia, president of an association representing gas station owners said almost all stations were hit by the strike.
"They're either running low or are completely out of gas and ethanol," he told reporters. "I expect all of them will be completely out of fuel By the end of the day."
The vice president of the Sao Paulo Truck Drivers Union said all 800 of the city's tanker truck drivers joined the strike.
Claudinei Pelegrini said the strike will not only affect the city's fleet of more than 7 million cars but also the more than 5 million people who use the public bus system every day to get to and from work since "truckers are not delivering fuel to bus companies.
Pelegrini said independent truck drivers transport at least 90 percent of the fuel in Sao Paulo.
The union that represents the city's bus companies said its members had enough fuel to last until Wednesday.
To make matters worse, he said truckers who transport food and construction material were expected to join the strike by Wednesday.
Fuel deliveries for all emergency services are guaranteed by the union he said.
"The strike does not affect deliveries to airports, hospitals and police and fire stations," he said.
The new restrictions limit the hours some of the city's highways can be used by truckers and forces them to use alternative routes that "increase transportation costs and the amount of time it takes to deliver the product," Pelegrini said.
The city's transportation department said in a statement that it 'vehemently repudiates" the strike and that police have been asked to protect non-striking truckers who have been threatened."
Both Gouveia and Pelegrini said truckers would return to work if the restrictions are made more flexible.
Repeated phone calls for comment from city officials went unanswered.