Residents of Bogota are preparing for a day of transport troubles as 10,000 private vehicles – many of them buses – go on strike to protest new city transport policies, according to local media.
Strikers are protesting a new law, set to be implemented Monday, that requires vehicles only operate certain days of the week based on license plate numbers, according to Colombia’s Semana weekly.
While the intent is to reduce congestion on Bogota’s busy streets and encourage use of the public bus system (SITP), operators of private buses complain that the law is arbitrary and violates their right to work.
Bogota’s administration has also received criticism for the increase of bus fares on the public system by around $0.05.
The city’s secretary of mobility, Constanza Garcia, has responded that “it is important to remember that the increase of the bus fare by [5 cents] announced by the mayor this past Thursday will guarantee access to the system to more than 850,000 citizens with few resources. This is the real meaning of the decision.”
Residents of Bogota took to social media to express their thoughts over the bus strike.
On Twitter, one resident noted the benefits of the strike: “Listen, this strike should be maintained for life, how pretty Bogota looks without so many old buses, and there’s not so much traffic.”
Another user offered a different perspective: “Bogota does not move better with SITP… Two blocks from my house is an endless line waiting for the bus. The people are already making a point.”
Authorities have prepared to maintain order throughout the city with some 17,000 police that have been made available to deal with the strike.
The threat of street blockades is one of the biggest concerns of law enforcement. At least one attempt to block traffic by a group of an estimated protesters supporting the strike was reported by El Espectador Monday.
This is not the first time Bogota has received criticism from its residents over the SITP. Unrest broke out earlier this year in the capital over the city’s increasing congestion, the apparent inefficiencies in the system, and long waits.
In March 2012, similar protests over the bad performance of the system led to the arrest of around 60 people and left five bus stations destroyed.