Jordan truckers strike

January 24, 2023

From the January-February 2023 issue of News & Letters

Truck drivers in Jordan were on strike during most of December, as soaring fuel prices have left them unable to work. Drivers simply stopped their trucks on the side of the highway and refused to deliver freight until the government dropped exorbitant fuel taxes. In the southern city of Maan, there was a sit-in protest near the main mosque. Shops in Maan shut down in solidarity.

Other Jordanians, especially youth, who are fed up with energy prices and high unemployment, held protests which blocked two highways leading out of Amman. Several government buildings were vandalized, and clashes with police led to the death of one officer.

A botched house raid to apprehend the accused shooters led to the death of three more officers, an incident which led to the Jordanian elite blaming the government for nationwide unrest.

By the end of December, local officials announced that they would lower fuel taxes in the coming months and agreed to increase minimum transport fees for truck drivers. However, the government also hedged by acknowledging that they couldn’t lower fuel tax revenue too far or they will breach a debt-servicing deal with the International Monetary Fund.

The government will have to choose between its own default or that of its citizens. Truck driver Khalid Shatnawi told Al Jazeera he had to take his son out of college when diesel prices nearly doubled and his earnings couldn’t cover the bills: “By the end of the month I’m in debt.”

Some drivers have gone back to work since the government announcement, but not all. In 2018, the government quelled energy cost protests by making similar pronouncements that never really materialized.

—Buddy Bell

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