Taxi drivers fined EUR 23,000 for car protest against rapid testing

Ljubljana – Police have fined 57 taxi drivers with a total of EUR 22,800 for having staged a protest drive against rapid testing every 72 hours in the streets around the parliament last month. The taxi drivers will seek legal remedy in court while they have already petitioned the Constitutional Court to examine a relevant government decree.

They were fined for occupying the road to hinder traffic and to protest, the Trade Union of Taxi Drivers says in a written statement on Tuesday.

It points out that the drivers provided enough room for an emergency lane and used the road exclusively for road transport, that is for its legally designated purpose, as they wanted to bring their situation to the attention of lawmakers.

The union also says the 23 February warning ride around the National Assembly posed no threat to anybody while also not increasing the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Police officers IDed the participants without explaining the reasons, while issuing fines to some of them on the spot and recording their cars’ licence plates.

The Ljubljana Police Administration told the STA today that all police procedures during the protest had been conducted in line with valid legislation. Most cases are still being processed as the taxi drivers have been asked to clarify the circumstances.

The police said that between 17 and 23 February several unannounced rallies by taxi drivers had been held at which police officers had detected several violations of traffic regulations.

Listing the violations, the police said the taxi drivers had been using their mobile phones while driving, honking their horns unjustifiably, walking on the road, ignoring traffic lights, occupying the roads unjustifiably with the purpose of obstructing traffic, slow driving, and blocking crossroads.

In one case, the police also found that the registration of a vehicle has expired so they took the car’s licence plates.

The union is convinced that the taxi drivers did not commit the offence for which they were fined, and cannot be held responsible for it.

Punishing taxi drivers because they criticised the government is not about providing for road safety but “showing power and repression”, the statement reads.

With the help of its umbrella Trade Union of Transport Workers, the Trade Union of Taxi Drivers has asked the top court to examine the government coronavirus decree which also regulates testing.

A day after the car protest, the government changed the decree. Taxi drivers are now required to get tested every seven days, which the trade union welcomed.