April 17, 2010 / 8:22 AM / 10 years ago

Ivory Coast transporters end strike: union

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast’s transport workers called off a week-long strike on Friday after the government cut fuel prices, the president of the national federation of drivers told Reuters.

Cocoa bags are seen in a warehouse in Gonate, western Ivory Coast, September 22, 2008. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

“We’ve just called off the strike and the taxis are starting to move again. The government cut the price of diesel. We are satisfied,” Loceni Diabate said.

Abidjan’s orange and yellow taxis began to fill the streets in the early evening, signalling the end of a strike that began on Monday over high fuel prices.

It brought taxis and buses to a halt and posed a threat to cocoa exports from the top grower, as beans are routinely trucked from plantations to ports for shipment abroad.

It was unclear what impact, if any, the strike action has had on the Ivorian cocoa port arrivals closely watched by futures markets in London and New York.

Earlier in the day, police fired tear gas at striking workers in the main port cities of Abidjan and San Pedro.

Ali Lakiss, managing director of cocoa exporting firm SAF-CACAO, in the major cocoa exporting port of San Pedro earlier said trucks had halted all activity there.

Throughout Ivory Coast’s main city of Abidjan, lorry traffic had slowed to a trickle. Some trucks were still plying its southern port area but far fewer than in previous days.

Many truckers said they had only just joined the transport strike on Friday.

“Fuel is too expensive. Life is too expensive. It’s difficult to get enough to eat,” said Dao Silibe, 28.

Strikes and protests over fuel and other living costs often flare in volatile West Africa. Crude oil is hovering just below 18-month highs and rising fuel prices are heating tensions in neighbouring Guinea too.

Taxes account for the greater part of Ivorian fuel prices.

In local markets, traders said food prices had shot up because of a shortage of goods owing to the truckers’ strike.

“There is no more chilli, carrots, tomatoes or aubergines,” said grocer Beatrice Kouakou, gesturing toward her nearly empty stall.

“Everything you see here is what I have and I can’t sell them because people think it’s too expensive.”

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