Protest of truckers paralyzed traffic in Baku
Protests of truckers in Baku
Four truck drivers blocked the main road in Baku, which caused huge traffic jams throughout the capital of Azerbaijan. The organizers of the action protested against the actions of the two officials. Protesters have been detained, but experts and society are still outraged by the authorities’ response to the protest of drivers.
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Early in the morning of February 17, almost all the media in Azerbaijan reported that four trucks blocked the main road in Baku – Heydar Aliyev Avenue. This highway connects the center of the capital with the airport and densely populated suburbs. Almost all traffic in Baku stopped, huge traffic jams formed.
Truck drivers placed a banner on one of the trucks explaining their actions:
“The head of the state service for motor transport Anar Rzayev and the head of the department Malik Aliyev! Give permits. Goods are spoiling. We’re bankrupt!”
As it turned out, all four drivers represent one of the local logistics firms.
Soon, the state service for motor transport, to which truckers made claims, issued a statement. “Carriers receive permits in the service without restrictions according to the preliminary distribution. But one of the carriers, Ramish Jafarov, demands additional privileges for himself, and opposes such distribution, threatens the civil service”, the State Service for Motor Transport said.
A little later, the media unanimously published information that an emergency meeting was held at the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport, as a result of which Anar Rzayev received a warning, and Malik Aliyev was dismissed from his post. The drivers protested against these officials.
Almost simultaneously with this, the police announced the arrest of the protesting drivers. The trucks were taken off the road, traffic in the city was restored.
A few minutes later, the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport issued a rebuttal: “No one in the state service for motor transport has been fired, and no one has been warned”.
On the evening of February 17, the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced the initiation of criminal cases against four truckers who blocked the main road to Baku. They are accused of “organizing and actively participating in actions that violated public order”.
The evening news broadcast of local TV channels showed videos in which protesting truckers apologized for the “inconvenience caused to citizens”.
Lawyer beaten by police
After disseminating information about the detention of drivers, human rights activists from the organization “Protection Line” went to the police station, where truckers were being held.
According to Rufat Safarov, one of the leaders of the human rights organization, he himself was detained in front of the police station and taken inside the building, where he was beaten and insulted. About an hour later, the human rights activist was released.
In an interview with journalists, the father of one of the detained drivers said that about 15 masked men broke into their house, beat family members, and took away his son with them.
The head of the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs called this statement a lie.
Social media reaction
“About yesterday’s situation with trucks.
People, with great difficulty, overcoming hundreds of barriers, built a business. Moreover, this is a global business – international transportation – requiring even more effort.
Instead of helping an entrepreneur develop their business, become more successful, create new jobs, pay more taxes, government agencies are doing everything to bankrupt them (there was meat in the trucks).
People expressed their protest in a peaceful way. I know from my own experience that it is impossible to get through to the structures, entrepreneurs are seen as ‘cash cows’.
Instead of calling them, listening to them, helping them, eliminating problems, proving that the state cares about businessmen, about the business environment, the drivers were detained and an idiotic video was made with apologies, Ramzan Kadyrov style”, wrote the owner of a bookstore chain in Baku, Nigar Kocharli.
“If Ilham Aliyev is not afraid of these four truck drivers and really relies on the people, these drivers should be released today and their problems should be addressed. If this does not happen, a committee should be organized to protect them, we should support them.
For 18 years now, roads have been blocked every day because of Aliyev, we have been stuck in traffic jams for hours. You can endure one day in a traffic jam if the truck drivers protest because otherwise no one is listening to them”, civil activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev wrote.