Staunton, May 5 – Russia’s long-haul truckers struck to force Moscow to drop its plans have them pay new and higher fees. There is little indication that the center is ready to back down. But there did appear to be some room for compromise if the Plato system fees were used to meet some of the trucker’s other concerns – better roads and weight control.
But any possibility for such an outcome has been much reduced given that the company collecting the fees from the truckers has decided not to take part in the establishment of an automated weight control system that many drivers would like to have, Vedomosti reported today (vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2017/05/05/688810-platona-sistemi-kontrolya).
The Russian government has been working to introduce a better and more automated weight control system given that so many trucks are carrying too much cargo and damaging the roads as a result, but budgetary stringencies mean that this project is unlikely to be fully operational anytime soon.
Had Plato fees gone to that end and to improving the highways in other ways, many drivers might have been peeled away from the strike; but the company’s decision, obviously backed by the government, not to make that kind of investment means that many drivers will again view the new system as simply an effort to take money from them and give nothing back.
As a result, many truckers will likely restart their strike after the May holidays end, and that will leave the government with few options besides using force, possibly setting the stage for clashes, including violent ones, between the drivers and the siloviki. And any such clashes especially if they come to be widely known will give the Kremlin another black eye that it clearly doesn't need.