On Sunday (Feb 10/2014) evening more than 500 people gathered to protest the installation on new tolls and their rising cost. Part of Malakasa toll booths to the North of Athens were torn off the ground and burned. These are the first of the many toll booths located on the highway between Athens and Thessaloniki (the 2nd largest city of Greece). This action came a few days after the new rates’ increases went in effect in many tolls and new toll stations were added on the only two main national highways leading to and from Athens. The particular toll station is one of few installed within the same municipality which is illegal under European Community Law.
Before the attack on the toll booths, demonstrators temporarily blocked all traffic and then asked employees inside the booths to leave. After employees left the booths they torched them, tearing some of them off the ground. After burning a good part of the toll booths, protesters, shouting slogans against the government and its policies, departed for the next toll station on the same highway, in the village of Afidnes, where they proceeded to a different action. They raised the bars and let passing vehicles through without paying for more than half an hour (photos: 1, 2).
Opening toll booths as a form of demonstration has for the past three years been very common. Also encouraging motorists not to pay and forming solidarity networks to fight violations in court has also been a common activity by grassroots organizations and political parties of the left. The construction tycoons of Greece who have been granted both all highway maintenance & construction contracts as well as exclusive private management, have forced the state to alter legislation to criminalize any form of protest or disobedience. Read the rest of this entry »