Some 200 Penza citizens join truckers’ protest against Platon road toll system
Penza, 19 November 2015. PenzaNews. Some 200 people took part in the long-haul truckers’ protest march against the soon-to-be-introduced Platon road toll system. The protest was held in the Penza Dzerzhinsky public garden on Thursday, November 19.
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The protesters were holding banners saying “We Oppose Platon’s Toll,” “No to Rotenberg’s Toll!”, “Let People Work in Peace!”, “We Oppose Toll Roads!”, “People Revolt, People Oppose Platon, No Wish To Pay Rotenberg’s Toll!”, “Don’t Starve Small Businesses,” “We Demand Transportation Minister Sokolov’s Layoff!”, “People Over Profits,” and more.
In her address to the crowd, Olga Rudakova, individual businesswoman, expressed her ourtrage over the fact that the road damage toll for vehicles that weigh over 12 tons is managed by a for-profit company.
“I think I will express the opinion for all of us by saying: if our government lacks money for building roads, why shouldn’t we pay these levies directly to the state? Why must we pay to some company?” she asked.
The protests taking place throughout Russia show that the long-haul truckers “that feed half of the state” is a very tightly-knit and intelligent community, Olga Rudakova said.
“The state gains about 1 million rubles of profit from a single long-haul truck. It’s not just us and our families that we feed. We feed fuel stations, canteens, service companies, auto parts stores. And now they want to strangle us,” said the protester.
The protests are held not just by Penza truck owners and drivers, but also in Tambov, Saratov, Nizhny Novgorod, Ulyanovsk, Perm, Ufa, Rybinsk and other cities, some of them joining the “snail road” campaign.
“We really want the authorities to see us. To how us not just on local TV channels but also on the federal ones. So that our will finally reaches the top big heads and the thieving law is cancelled,” Olga Rudakova explained.
The trucker’s work is a very tough one, unlike the public majority thinks, the businesswoman pointed out.
“Does any of you have any two-, three-floor cottages?” she asked. In return, somebody yelled from the crows that a trucker’s cottage is a MAZ truck with a sleeping bag.
“How do you repair your cars? Cardboard on the dirt, and there you go. Let’s see if any of the big heads want to work like that,” Olga Rudakova added.
After her, an unnamed long-haul trucker took over the podium.
“For 25 years we’ve been paying the transportation tax. Then they introduced the diesel fuel tax. Nobody controlled anything there for these 25 years. Where did the money vanish – we don’t know. And now they want to hand a third tax on our necks. Why? The roads were left unrepaired – it even becomes ridiculous at times. Say, I’ve been driving through the Saratov region the other day. A road section, about 10 kilometers, is all potholes. And three of the potholes have recently placed asphalt. It’s like they came there with a bucket, piled it up, and there is your repair,” he pointed out.
Another speaker added that a similar situation has appeared on the approach to Srednaya Elyuzan village in the Penza region, where “they put asphalt right on dirt and snow.”
“The transportation minister [of Russia Maxim Sokolov] said we don’t haul food and that won’t reflect the people in any way, we are driving goods by train. What trains? See how many of us are there – we all haul food. Who said it won’t affect us? It will affect everyone!” yet another protester stressed, his outcry echoed by other truckers.
Sergei Makarov, businessman from Nikolsk, described the issues many drivers experienced right after the launch of Platon road toll system.
“I don’t want to pay this Platon. Came to see what’s up yesterday. Total chaos! Kazakhs are everywhere – they say they were going from Kazakhztan, the net went crazy in Orenburg, no place to pay, the Tolyatti office burned down, the nearest one in Penza. Just imagine the mess. Belarus people also came. Brought their trucks right into Penza, parked on Maxima Gorkovo [street]. The website’s down. If they want to drain our pockets, at least they should put it through a test run,” he said.
His suggestion was immediately met with cries “No!” and “What for?!”
“Okay, guys. Me, I’m against it. We pay the excise, we pay the taxes. Last year, I was told to pay 25,000 rubles, and 33,500 this year. Where’s the justice? No justice whatsoever,” Sergei Makarov added.
In his comment on the event, Vladimir Simagin, State Duma deputy for the Penza region in the CPRF faction, said he will deliver truckers’ demands to the head management of the Communist Party.
“Rest assured, you have our full support,” he stressed.
Vladimir Simagin also added that the Penza Communist Party branch is preparing a city-wide protest against the current social and economy policies on December 19, and invited those truckers that oppose the introduction of Platon system to join this march.
The people in the crowd agreed they need as many people as they need on our side to pull through the voiced demands.