AMMAN: Truck drivers in Jordan’s southern city of Maan have signed an agreement with lawmakers to end a 17-day strike that has seen major disruption to traffic and supply chains and the death of a senior police officer.
Under the deal, which was signed by six members of parliament, the drivers agreed to evacuate main highways and go back to work under a pledge that their demands would be met.
The workers — most of whom hail from the southern cities of Maan, Tafileh and Karak — have demanded lower fuel prices and the cancellation of a special tax on fuel derivatives.
The price of fuel, especially diesel and kerosene, has increased considerably in Jordan over the past few months, with the government blaming international markets.
The government also said it generated about 1 billion Jordanian dinars ($1.4 billion) from the tax on fuel derivatives.
Despite the agreement, a copy of which was seen by Arab News, some of the protesting workers, who include bus and taxi drivers from other cities across Jordan, said they would continue to strike.
Several truck drivers from Maan, which is about 350 km south of Amman, told the Jo24 news website that they would go on with their “peaceful” protest until their demands were met.
Meanwhile, bus drivers and passengers traveling from the port city of Aqaba through Maan to Amman told Arab News that the desert highway was quiet on Sunday but with a heavy presence of security forces.
One driver, who asked not to be named, said the scores of trucks that had lined the road over the past two weeks were nowhere to be seen.
Besides the disruption to traffic, Jordanian authorities said that a senior police officer had died after being shot in a clash with protesters in Maan’s Al-Husseiniya district on Thursday.
He was identified as Col. Abdul Razzaq Al-Dalabeeh, deputy police chief of Maan. Three other officers were hurt in the clashes.
During a press conference following Al-Dalabeeh’s funeral on Friday, the government said security agencies would maintain a “strict approach” to dealing with rioting and violence, while respecting people’s right to demonstrate peacefully.
Interior Minister Mazen Farayeh said some of the sit-ins in Maan and other regions had turned violent, with protesters blocking streets and attacking government institutions.
The Public Security Department said that 44 people accused of involvement in protests against rising fuel prices were arrested over the weekend.
“Forty-four people who participated in the riots in a number of regions in the kingdom have been arrested and they will be referred to the judiciary,” it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the department’s cybercrime unit announced the temporary suspension of the social platform TikTok in Jordan, citing “user misuse and the platform’s failure to deal with content inciting violence.”
Police teams are investigating posts on several social media platforms for possible links to hate speech, incitement to violence, and attacks on law enforcement agencies and property.