Citizens of the biggest cities in BiH brought their cars to a halt on Sunday afternoon, as a sign of protest over the last hike in fuel prices in the country. This way, they joined drivers in Serbia, who started a similar protest a few days ago.
Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Zenica, Tuzla, Prijedor and other cities’s road arteries were blocked as drivers prevented other vehicles from driving by except for emergency one such as ambulances. The beginning in Banja Luka was turbulent, as many of those who do not support the protests tried to cross the barricades. In some places the situation got particularly tense but, fortunately, only minor scuffles occurred.
Ahead of the protests, things had been heated on social media, with posts referring to the way the Germany dealt with a similar problem where, allegedly, drivers left their cars on the streets for one hour due to increased fuel prices.
The government’s response was to immediately reduce prices.
However, the main point was that people were made to talk about the infuriating fuel hikes both in BiH, in Serbia and in Montenegro, too.
Due to the current increase fuel prices in the country reached 1,2 euros. Although the state’s leadership insisted that the price was is the lowest in the region, drivers did not see it this way. As a result, they demand the reduction of excise taxes, which would reduce the total price of fuel.
Just a few hours before the protest, RS Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining, Petar Đokić, said that the “price of fuel in BiH is topped with additional services”, and believes that it could be reduced. Đokic explained serious analysis would help determine which taxes could be pushed down, an action that should be conducted by the relevant state institutions.
The actual protests are not necessarily supported by the majority of the people whereas the police have held an inactive role, simply observing developments. It is possible that the guidance from high up dictates that since this is an election year, the police should not intervene and upset the people; something, which could also result in the crowd being against the politician or politicians who ordered such a tactic.
Quite interestingly, this is the second time citizens of both BiH entities are protesting in unity against the ruling parties. The first time was after the mysterious deaths of two young men, Dženan Memić’s in Sarajevo and David Dragičević’s in Banja Luka. Memić was found dead near the road and the Federation BiH police declared it a traffic accident; the family challenged the official version declaring that he was murdered. Dragičević’s body was found in river Crkvena, in Banja Luka, after six days of searching for his traces. Like in Memić’s case, the RS police announced that Dragičević’s death was caused by an accident, but his father is still fighting to prove that his son was kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered.
What matters the most is that in order to protest for the two young men and the fuel price hikes, BiH got together and “fought” together, regardless of the nationality, religion or the entity they live in. Perhaps, this could mean that locals realise how similar their problems are across the country (BiH) and it would be about the right time to overcome whatever differences there between them and move on united as one “fist”…. / IBNA