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SEOUL: More than 200,000 South Korean taxi drivers staged a rare day-long strike on Wednesday for higher fares and cheaper fuel, prompting authorities to run extra bus and subway services.
About 220,000 of the country’s 255,500 licensed cabbies joined the stoppage, the transport ministry said, adding there would be extra buses in the capital Seoul and the second city Busan, and more trains on the Seoul subway.
“We don’t expect any major transportation crisis since taxis are not a major part of people’s daily commute,” a ministry spokesman told AFP. “But we are still keeping a close eye on the situation.” There was no major turmoil during morning commuting hours due to the increased bus and subway services and the absence of taxis actually eased gridlock on the roads, Yonhap news agency reported.
Tens of thousands of drivers will stage a huge rally in central Seoul later in the day, the Korean Taxi Workers’ Union said.
It wants a rise in the flagfall of 2,400 won ($2) and cuts in the price of LPG, on which most taxis run.
“The anger of taxi drivers that has long been bottled up is finally exploding on June 20,” the union said in a statement.
It said the domestic LPG price has surged 50 percent over the past four years and accused fuel providers of “pocketing massive profits... while the livelihood of taxi drivers couldn’t get worse”. “This is our final ultimatum asking for our survival,” the union said.
The transport ministry said earlier it had urged South Korean fuel importers such as SK Gas and E1 to try to curb fuel-price rises. - AFP