Contract drivers say they will close down highways today

The unlicensed taxi drivers will again try to close the country down today, These are the Porteadores or contract drivers who are pressuring the country for passage of legislation that would legalize their profession and protect them.

The central government reached an accord with licensed taxi drivers and the porteadores last July. The result of the agreement was a bill presented to the legislature that has been languishing there since.

The bill would require the porteadores to meet many of the same requirements as taxi drivers but they could not pickup fares on the street. They could only carry passengers from one designated spot to another as contract workers.

The conflict between the taxi drivers and the porteadores has been going on for eight years. Although the contract drivers’ claim to legality is thin, the government never tried

to end the practice. Now they will have to follow the transportation laws and pay taxes and enroll for coverage in the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, if the bill is passed.

The administration has threatened to crack down and issue tickets if drivers block the road, but there are about 8,000 porteadores and they will be blocking key roadways all over the country.

The porteadores protested repeatedly in much the same way. Then the licensed taxi drivers would protest and block highways.

The Federación Nacional de Porteadores said its members would converge on the Asamblea Legislativa in the afternoon after their blockades.

There is some suggestion that administration officials are trying to get the drivers to call off their protest, but no results were known early Wednesday.

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