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Greek taxi drivers decided on Tuesday to extend their 48-hour strike that would of ended at 5 am on Wednesday morning and will now strike until this forthcoming Friday, July 22.
This morning they renewed their rendezvous outside their offices to decide what further strategy to take. While tomorrow they are expected to rally outside the Ministry of Infrastructure.
The situation on the streets of Athens spiraled out of control after the traffic chaos caused by the taxi protests. The drivers departed from Piraeus port and later from Eleftherios Venizelos airport and headed towards the center of Athens to protest, but were not allowed to do so because the police blocked the roads to Syntagma with cranes.
On top of this, a roadblock was raised on Amalias boulevard, resulting in a vehicle queue of dozens of kilometers up to Syngrou Avenue. Moreover, a second roadblock was set up near NIMITS in Ilisia, across from the Hilton Hotel.
Yesterday in Piraeus, after negotiations with the harbor master, the taxi drivers allowed access to two gates at Xaveriou Coast where the cruise ships are, in order to let the tourists board their buses.
According to the Coast Guard, 15000 tourists were expected to disembark from vessels at Xaveriou Coast. Approximately 2.500 taxi drivers rallied in Piraeus. As a result, traffic chaos and congestion ensued on all roads in and around the city of Piraeus, causing public transport to grind to a halt.
Since early morning, several hundred taxis had queued for kilometers near the airport exits to Attiki Odos, leaving only one lane open to traffic. There were flight delays of up to one hour. Strong riot police arrived promptly on the scene.
SATA Chairman, Thimios Lymberopoulos, made it clear that the protests will continue and called upon the Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Communications to reverse his decision and create a dialogue based on a Presidential Decree.
On the order of District Attorney Eleni Raikou, the minister asked that judicial proceedings be initiated against any taxi drivers that are hindering public transportation.
On his part, Minister of Tourism Pavlos Geroulanos appealed for calm tempers and urged taxi owners to realize the discomfort experienced by thousands of citizens when the protesters cause traffic jams around ports and airports.
As is quite apparent, the relationship between taxi owners and the government has been driven to extremes since Minister Giannis Ragkousis’ made a decision to proceed immediately with the full deregulation of the taxi trade, ignoring the presidential decree promoted by his predecessor in the ministry, Dimitris Reppas, and agreed upon by owners.
Meanwhile around the country Taxi drivers in the prefecture of Ilia are protesting too, blocking the port of Katakolo.
In Crete, the “Nikos Kazantzakis” airport is blocked at both of its entrances. The airport receives international charter flights and is expected to welcome some 12.000 tourists who will probably be obligated to drag their luggage to their hotels.
In the city of Rethymno taxi drivers blocked the Regional Unification building early on Tuesday morning.
In Thessaloniki they surrounded the “Macedonia” airport, while taxi drivers also blocked the port of Patra and the Araxos airport in Kato Achaia.