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Truckers protest increase in highway tolls

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Truckers are demanding that toll increases be reconsidered. Photo: File

Mérida, Yucatán — Tolls rose for at least the second consecutive year on the Mérida-Cancun highway, and truckers are feeling the pinch.

The Mérida-Cancun highway is the most expensive in the country, with a round trip costing deliverymen 2,300 pesos per round trip, said Andrés Javier Poot Alonso of the Mexican Alliance of Transport Organization in Yucatán.

The increase is equivalent to 6.6 percent for the 8,000 cars that access Autopista Mérida-Cancun every day.

Part of Federal Highway 180D, the road is operated under a concession by Consorcio del Mayab, a unit of Empresas ICA.

The rate increase hit commercial drivers by surprise. The trucking group has complained that drivers have to absorb their costs because the fees they charge were previously set.

Poot Alonso said that at the national level, several highway concessions have already expired, which should have put the roads under government control.

“It is assumed that a highway must have an average of 20 years of concession, so that later they go into the hands of the federal government, which then regulates prices,” he said.

Mérida-Cancun was formally opened at the end of 1991. ICA was given the concession after the original concessionaire was declared derelict on its payments in 2011.

The truckers have set a date to demonstrate, but are holding back on their tactics.

“We know that the demonstration will be on April 10, but we do not intend to close the road because we understand the needs of other carriers,” he said.

In 2013, around 200 disgruntled teachers took over one of the highway’s toll plazas, letting cars pass for free.

The federal government started granting highway concessions to private companies in the 1980s, with mixed results.

It was one of the world’s most sweeping private road programs, resulting in some of the world’s most expensive toll roads — out of reach for most working people.

By the 1990s, the government announced a US$7.5 billion bailout to re-nationalize 23 failing highways and two underused bridges.

With information from Sipse

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