Transport Ministry blockaded in protest

Driving school

On Wednesday, Prague witnessed a huge car and lorry blockade. The Association of driving schools and the country's vehicle importers organized a morning protest action outside the Ministry of Transport to show their discontent with the new driving tests and with new laws that considerably limit imports of used cars. Alena Skodova has the details:

The new law, that came into force on July 1, 2001, prohibits the import of all cars older than five years unless they hold a European certificate of approval. Jan Slawish, head of the Association of Czech Car Importers, says the law is discriminatory because it discriminates against all countries which are not in the EU, which means that cars from the United States and Japan, for example, are not even considered. The law is always accompanied by a notice which explains the rules and regulations, but the latest notice did not exist until the end of August which is why the import of vehicles within the last two months has been completely non-existent.

Mr. Slawish added that the import of cars older than five years, from countries outside Europe, amounts to nearly 5 percent of total car imports into the CR each year.

Over one thousand cars and lorries entered central Prague on Wednesday morning, blocking up roads in all directions. RP's Rob Cameron was outside the ministry of transport, and described the situation there:

"Actually it's quite eerie here, because the whole ministry is surrounded by a huge cordon of cars and trucks, basically the whole ministry has been cut off, there's no way you can drive into the car park outside the building at all, the whole place is just chock-a-block with cars."

Was the centre of Prague blockaded as well? Did you have any problems?

"I haven't seen any traffic problems whatsoever in the centre of Prague except for one tunnel which is near the ministry, traffic there is moving quite slowly but the police are on the scene and they're helping the traffic move along, and the main bridge across the river, I can see traffic now is moving quite freely."

Although the blockade is smaller in scale than originally planned, the discontent car importers say they are prepared to keep blockading the ministry of transport until Mr. Schling is replaced.