Hauliers threaten strike over diesel

Hauliers threaten strike over diesel

PM vows to deploy military trucks

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has vowed to deploy military trucks to buttress the country's road cargo network should a protest event, in which hundreds of lorry drivers have vowed to picket the Transport Ministry over high fuel prices, results in prolonged strike action.

According to the Land Transport Federation of Thailand (LTFT) chairman, Apichart Prairungruang, the group has organised the protest to impress upon the government the extent to which high diesel prices are strangling their income.

The LTFT is urging the government to reduce its price cap from the current 30 baht per litre to 25 baht.

"If the government fails to respond to the demand by Dec 1, we will strike," he said, adding it will immediately afterward raise the cargo transport rates by 10%.

"We will continue operating only if the diesel price is 25 baht per litre. If the Ministry of Energy can't resolve this problem, it should be then dissolved," he said after submitting an open letter to the ministry yesterday.

In a symbolic gesture marking the renewal of their call for the 25-baht cap, hundreds of lorries formed a traffic-disrupting convoy as they drove into central Bangkok yesterday to submit the letter to the ministry.

Gen Prayut, meanwhile, acknowledged that high energy prices are affecting all sectors and said the government is working to ease the impact of the global problem across the board.

He urged the LTFT to avoid piling too much pressure on the government, saying he had instructed the Transport Ministry and its state enterprise, the Transport Co, to help support the cargo transport system in case the drivers strike.

And if necessary, he said, military trucks will also be deployed to keep the economy from suffering if road haulage ceases.

Speaking after a mobile cabinet meeting in the South, the PM said the cabinet has approved a proposal for the office of the Oil Fund to borrow 20 billion baht with which to support a sub-30-baht diesel price for four months.

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