Protests Blocked a Boulevard in Sofia and Key Roads in Bulgaria

Politics | April 20, 2022, Wednesday // 13:40
Bulgaria: Protests Blocked a Boulevard in Sofia and Key Roads in Bulgaria @BNR

Road builders went on another protest due to unpaid money from the state for their performed activities. There are protests and blockades of key roads across Bulgaria.

The traffic in front of the National Assembly was normalized at 12 o'clock after the organizers decided that they had said clearly and loudly before the deputies and before the Council of Ministers what their demands were. Namely - by the end of June to receive due for the repair work on road maintenance.

In a march to the Council of Ministers, they blocked Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd. and the triangle of power, where protesters called on Prime Minister Kiril Petkov to keep his promises to pay 50% of the amount due immediately.

Here is what protesting road builders in Sofia said:

"For three months we have only received advances. There are no salaries, how do you expect us to work? There are a lot of laid-off people. We are currently living on our women's salaries. If my wife doesn't work, we can't make a living", I have at least BGN 3,000 to receive. We came here to make money, but we can't take our money”.

If parliament does not adopt the expected decision, national protests will begin next Wednesday, April 27, across the country, which will be indefinite and will block roads and intersections.

The rain did not prevent driving instructors from joining the protest in the capital with training cars and adding their motives:

"Because we are not happy with the roads, with everything, there are no road signs or markings." We want better rules for training future car drivers, we want more hours, to raise prices a bit".

Shortly after 11 a.m., organizers let the workers free due to the bad weather in anticipation of news from the National Assembly.

Fifty workers of the Black Sea Highways blocked the Aytos-Provadia road at the junction connecting the Aytos and Rishki passes. The protesters demand that the state pay them 100% of the amount due for the repair of the Chirpan-Stara Zagora section of the Trakia Motorway. The roadblock lasted half an hour.

"The promise is only for 50%, we want 100% of the amount because 50% do not work for us. We will protest again until they give us the money, we will not give up, and we will go to Sofia, today we have to resolve the problem,” protesters said.

In the Haskovo region, protesters from road construction companies briefly blocked traffic on the road to Dimitrovgrad and the Maritsa highway near Kapitan Andreevo. Employees of the firm “AB AD”, which have to receive BGN 40 million, took part in the protest.

170 employees out of a total of 320 will be laid off.

Road construction companies from the Lovech region blocked traffic for minutes on the main Sofia-Varna road, and then gradually on the Lovech-Troyan road at the Ablanitsa road junction.

Road builders blocked the Pernik-Sofia road in the Dragichevo area for an hour. Mile-long columns formed. A nervous driver tried to break through the blockade but was stopped by protesters and police. The chief engineer of Pernik Roads Rosen Milanov said that in October 2021 the company was forced to sign an agreement withdrawing from its five-year contract, which allows them to complete preventive repairs and winter maintenance:

"The alternative was to terminate our contract unilaterally by RIA and to seek our rights in court. We preferred the other option because it meant literal bankruptcy. To date, neither the winter maintenance has been transferred, for the fourth month, nor have any assignments been given.”

More than half of the workers have already been laid off. The others will celebrate Easter without salaries, said Evgeni Gerasimov - technical manager of the company.

The protest was also supported by quarry workers in the village of Studena and subcontractors of road construction in the region.

Workers and employees of road maintenance companies in Northeastern Bulgaria blocked the Hemus highway for half an hour for the second time and demanded that the funds owed by the state be transferred to them immediately. They carried placards reading "Gentlemen, take action" and "Being a roadman is our pride".

"It's always been pride. The state just wants to destroy us. Have you seen how large one certificate is? What's not transparent? Who writes the contracts? Am I writing the contracts? There are probably 20 people hired to review all this and they write it as a contract" - explained the protester.

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