Romanian ship operators postpone Danube blockade

BUCHAREST, Sep 6, 2000 -- (BBC) Text of report in English by the independent Romanian news agency Mediafax.

The fluvial ship owners have decided to postpone a total blockade of the Danube River, initially scheduled for Wednesday [6th September], and to wait until the government meeting on Thursday, when the decision could be made on how to compensate the losses suffered by the navigation companies following the war against Yugoslavia, said Mircea Toader, the vice-president of the Association of Fluvial Ship Owners and Port Operators in Romania.

"During the government meeting, the debates could regard two draft decisions meant to compensate part of our losses," said Toader. He explained that the ship owners have requested a government decision by which fluvial navigation companies and the Danube port operators be erased the debts to the state budget accumulated between 1st April 1999-31st July 2000. "Those who were able to pay their fiscal obligations in this period should have their future debts compensated," Toader said.

Ship owners are also demanding another decision by which they could purchase diesel oil on an excise-free basis. "Depending on what the government decides, we will determine whether we will block the Danube starting Friday," Toader said. The Association of Ship Owners and Port-Fluvial Operators in Romania and the Federation of the Navigators' Trade Unions in Romania signed an understanding in July in which a blockade of the river was scheduled between 6th-9th September if their situation is not approached by authorities. A similar action took place in 1999, also between 6-9th September. The operation should have taken place at the 371st kilometre of the Danube, in the Calarasi area, with five push boats, 10 barges and a motorboat.

The ship owners announced that their losses reach 150m dollars. They stated that their monthly losses, caused by the non-honoring of the contracts signed, reach USD 9.5 million and that, because of the Danube's blocking, they had to fire 3,600 of the 5,788 employees.

Original article