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Lorry drivers protest against Gotthard traffic policy

Truckers parked their lorries in front of the parliament building


More than 200 lorry drivers demonstrated in Bern on Friday to protest against the one-way circulation of traffic through the Gotthard tunnel.

The disgruntled drivers parked some 20 trucks in front of the Swiss parliament and joined members of the Swiss Road Transport Association (ASTAG) in calling for the one-way traffic policy in the tunnel - Europe's main north-south axis through the Alps - to be lifted.

"We've come with our trucks to the heart of Swiss political life to protest," said the president of ASTAG, Carlo Schmid, warning that Switzerland faces chaos this summer if the one-way flow of traffic is not lifted.

Since the Gotthard re-opened in December after a fire last October which killed 11 people, the government has imposed a strict policy of one-way traffic which has in turn led to major tailbacks at both ends of the tunnel.

One-way traffic

The one-way policy is strongly contested by organisations representing lorry drivers in Italy, as well as Switzerland's two automobile associations, TCS and ACS.

Kandid Hofstetter, the director of ASTAG, says something needs to be done to improve the flow of traffic through the tunnel.

"For the past six months, hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by a situation which is becoming increasingly unbearable," he said.

Hofstetter estimates that 7,500 businesses have been affected by the increased amount of time it takes to transport goods through the tunnel.

ASTAG - together with the ACS and TCS - said they hoped the Swiss transport minister, Moritz Leuenberger, would take their concerns into account at a forthcoming round-table discussion on the Gotthard scheduled to take place on July 2.

swissinfo with agencies

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