Bolivian bus strike and road blocks to protest new drunk driving law
(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)
The Bolivian government took notice of the amazingly high number of bus accidents that took place in January 2010 (72 dead and 196 injured in 5 bus accidents in one month) and very swiftly passed a new decree declaring that any interdepartmental bus driver caught drinking while driving (whether he or she causes and accident or not) will immediately and PERMANENTLY have their drivers license revoked.
In addition, bus line owners may have their licenses to operate revoked, depending on the situation. For example, in some cases the bus drivers were also underaged, or did not have drivers licenses at all. One bus line has already had its license to operate one of its routes suspended.
This has led Bolivian interdepartmental bus drivers to protest in defense of drivers. The national public transportation driver's union has declared a 2-day interdepartmental bus line strike for Tuesday and Wednesday (February 9 and 10) and will also be blocking all main roads between major cities.
It is interesting to note that the head of the public transportation union has admitted his own drivers license has been revoked and he currently does not have one.
The union has also announced that if the government does not negotiate with them, they will expand their strike and road blocks, and will request all city bus and taxi companies to join in. The Government has stated it will not back down.
To date the decree only covers interdepartmental bus lines and drivers. Authorities and the public, while greatly supporting this new decree, also widely criticize it for not covering ALL drivers, including city bus and taxi drivers, and every licensed driver in the country.
ANOTHER ACCIDENT FEBRUARY 5TH: Even as the bus transportation union announced its nation-wide strike and road blocks to protest the new drunk driving law, another bus (TransCopacabana) collided with a cistern truck on the road between La Paz and Copacabana. It rolled down a ravine killing 5 and severely injuring 35 others.