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French Protest Petrol Prices

Government inquiries over high fuel prices are underway in Australia and the United States while in France, taxi drivers will Friday join widening fuel price protests. John Howard reports.

Taxi drivers across France will add their weight to a protest over high fuel prices with plans to block key roads across the country.

Their campaign will widen a protest that has already virtually closed major French ports.

Many of the cross-channel ferries have already been forced to re-route to Belgium after French ports and the largest fishing port at Boulogne were blocked.

Fishermen yesterday started a port blocking protest over rising fuel prices which has now left thousands of passengers stranded and tonnes of cargo left on wharves.

P & O Stena, a main ferry operator, has sent its ships to Belgium and has launched a legal action against the fishermen whose blockade of maritime transport also wrought havoc at several British ferry terminals.

Fishermen also stopped traffic on the Calais-Paris motorway outside Boulogne.

The National Federation of Taxi Drivers, which groups together 115 unions representing 15,000 drivers, has asked taxi drivers to "block strategic points for a number of hours." throughout the country on Friday.

The campaign looks likely to snowball further with truckers and other diesel operaors and petrol-dependent professions threatening to join the fray.

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said he understood the fishermen's position and is expected to announce unspecified fuel tax cuts later today.


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