Truckers seek minister's removal over fuel price

Truckers seek minister's removal over fuel price

Taxis feel heat as Covid hits income

Trucks are heading for the Energy Ministry last November to pressure for a lower diesel price. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Trucks are heading for the Energy Ministry last November to pressure for a lower diesel price. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Land Transport Federation of Thailand (LTFT) will stage a rally on Tuesday to demand the sacking of Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow over the high price of diesel.

LTFT chairman Apichart Prairungruang said lorry drivers from all over the country will converge on the Energy Ministry on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road for the "Truck Power Final Season" protest.

The first "Truck Power" protest was held in November.

He said even though the ministry has shifted from using biodiesel B7 to biodiesel B5, the price is still very high at 57 baht per litre. As a result, the LTFT believes the use of biodiesel should be scrapped.

On Tuesday, the Energy Policy Administration Committee (Epac) decided to sell only diesel blended with 5% palm oil-derived methyl ester at petrol stations from this Saturday, instead of the 7% formula, as it is struggling to deal with soaring global oil prices.

The change does not lower the price of diesel but it should ease the government's financial burden, as the state has put a cap on diesel prices at 30 baht a litre since November last year using the Oil Fund via a price subsidy.

Meanwhile, Withoon Naewpanich, president of a network of taxi cooperatives in Bangkok, said he will lead some 50 network members to hand Mr Supattanapong a petition, asking him to help ease the impacts the Covid-19 pandemic has had on more than 40,000 drivers in Bangkok and surrounding provinces.

Currently, new infections top more than 10,000 daily, making people afraid to use taxis, Mr Withoon said.

As a result, the average income of tax drivers has dropped from 1,400 per day to 700 baht. When the fuel cost of about 400 baht per day is added they have very little left, he said.

The group wants the ministry to consider reducing the price of gas for vehicles which currently stands at 15.60 baht per kilogramme to 10.50 baht for up to six months, Mr Withoon said.

In response to the planned rally by the LTFT, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government is trying as hard as it can to keep the diesel price down.

"We have a limited budget, not to mention the global oil price situation is against us. The problems has affected everyone, not any particular group. The government has to look after all groups,'' he said.

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