Mali: Truck drivers strike severs commerce

It has been 6 days since (on 10 March) the a variety of formal and informal unions of Malian inter-city truck drivers went on strike, shutting down the transport of people and goods. While Bamako/Koulikoro and points northwest are served by rail from Dakar, and river transport remains vital, much of Mali’s commerce relies on roads to Burkina and seaports in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. The CNTM union (“Conseil national des transporteurs maliens”) complains of the recent imposition of ECOWAS tariffs on overweight vehicles: and Malian transport never leaves until it is well overweight by anyone’s measure. That is the proximate complaint, but it is security forces and their roadblock “taxes” that kills these transporters. ECOWAS found in both 2008 and 2009 surveys that the most checkpoints per/km in West Africa were on the highway from Bamako to the Burkina border. Whether or not Bamako can control this corruption, it cannot operate without truck traffic. We’ll see who blinks first.

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