Thousands of Bulgarians have blocked major highways and roads on Sunday protesting fuel prices and rising cost of living. The blockades have the effect that dozens of truck drivers and private motorists are trapped not only inside Bulgaria but also in neighboring Greece and Turkey.
The protests have spread across the country, a group has blocked the Bulgarian side of Promahonas border crossing with Greece. Dozens of truck drivers and private car motorists remain trapped in their cars on the Greek side, media in Greece report on Sunday evening. Blocked is also the road to Turkey, in the SE Bulgaria.
Over 2,000 people waving national flags marched in central Sofia chanting “Mafia” and “Rubbish”, frustrated with the rising costs of living in the European Union’s poorest country, reuters reported.
Protests were also held in over 20 Bulgarian cities, with dozens of drivers blockading roads, including the one leading to Greece, for hours. Some demanded the resignation of the center-right coalition government of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
Fuel prices have risen in the past month following a spike in global oil prices. In an attempt to ease discontent the anti-monopoly regulator has said it would look at the fuel sector to see if there are any breaches of competition rules.
The government’s decision to increase the tax on older and more polluting cars from 2019 has angered many in a country where the average monthly salary is 575 euros, among the lowest in the European Union.
Among the many areas affected were the road via Blagoevgrad to Greece, three parts of Trakiya Motorway – near Stara Zagora, Yambol and Bourgas – and the highway close to the town of Shoumen. There were also large blockades in major cities including Plovdiv and Bourgas.
Traffic jams on Bragoevgrad highway to Greece via TheSofiaGlobe
According to Bulgarian news agency novinite: on Sunday evening:
More than 500 people and more than 100 cars blocked the main road to Greece in Blagoevgrad.
Hundreds of people gathered on the international road at Poligon at the exit of the district town towards Kulata. Traffic is completely stopped in both directions.
In Bansko, residents stopped traffic a protest against the appreciation of the water price increase. So they supported the dissatisfaction of the people in Blagoevgrad. The blockade is expected to last about an hour on the E-79 main road.
Nearly 400 vehicles blocked a section from the main road to Trakia highway at the exit of Burgas.
Protestants from Stara Zagora blocked the Trakia highway and the road to Dimitrovgrad. The Stara Zagora motorway is closed to traffic. There are miles-long queues in four directions of cars and TIR trucks.
It is unclear how long the blockade will continue.