Brazilians Brace for Shortages as Truck Driver Protests Continue

  • Brazilians Brace for Shortages as Truck Driver Protests Continue

Brazilians Brace for Shortages as Truck Driver Protests Continue

South America's largest economy runs largely on road transport and the stoppage indeed was beginning to have serious consequences, with highway police reporting trucks had blocked roads in almost all but one of Brazil's 26 states.

But the determination of the truckers has caught center-right President Michel Temer's government flat-footed, five months ahead of presidential elections.

"We will not allow hospitals to go without supplies to save lives", Mr Temer said.

Truckers block the federal highway BR-116, which connects to Mercosur countries, to protest rising fuel costs, in Embu das Artes, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, May 24, 2018.

Many gas stations nationwide have run out of diesel and gasoline and local managers say they don't know when to expect more deliveries.

Brazil's oil regulator ANP said once roads are completely cleared, it would still take a week to normalize fuel supplies countrywide.

Amid widespread trucker protests in Brazil against the recent price hikes in fuels, the government has offered Petrobras to compensate it with up to US$274.04 million (1 billion reias) for losses it would incur by cutting the price of diesel.

State airport operator Infraero suggested that passengers check with airlines on the status of their flights and warned carriers to check that there is enough jet fuel to refuel planes at airports before clearing flights.

"We need all of you truckers to get back to work". Cities in the interior, further away from refineries along the Brazilian coast, have been particularly hard hit. "It doesn't mean the company is changing its pricing policy". As part of the deal, a previously announced 10 percent drop in diesel prices by state oil company Petrobras would be extended from two weeks to 30 days.

Luiz Antonio, a trucker who was striking outside of Rio de Janeiro on Friday, said he didn't trust what had been negotiated in Brasilia. In a statement, the National Confederation of Autonomous Transporters said it had not agreed to the strike's suspension.

The strike comes as Latin America's largest economy struggles to fully recover from its worst recession in decades. Unemployment has yet to decline, and the Brazilian real has dropped sharply against the U.S. dollar over the last few months.

The protests will be halted for 15 days, the government announced, as it promised to scrap fuel taxes and use subsidies to maintain a 10% reduction in pump prices announced on Wednesday.

Petrobras yielded to pressure on Wednesday and temporarily reduced fuel prices.

"In the short term, there can only be a truce", Braga said.