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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 22:51 GMT 23:51 UK
Striking bus drivers arrested in Chile
Commuters opt for bikes as buses stand idle by the road
Some commuters opted for more traditional transport
More than 700 Chilean bus drivers have been arrested by police in the country's capital Santiago after they blocked most of the city's main roads.

Residents of Santiago walk to work during the bus strike
Many roads in the southern districts of the city were left gridlocked
The drivers were protesting against government attempts to modernise the transport system.

They fear that plans to bring in foreign investors and update bus fleets will lead to job cuts and economic problems.

Hundreds of thousands of commuters were left stranded, and although schools and universities remained open, few students were able to make it to their classes on Monday morning.

Some resorted to hitchhiking in an attempt to get to work.

Gridlock

Chilean President Ricardo Lagos' controversial new license system, among other requirements, proposes to retire old buses that do not meet clean air requirements.

"I want to say that what we have seen today [Monday] is absolutely unacceptable and therefore we will prosecute the strikers with the full force of the law," Mr Lagos was quoted by French news agency AFP has saying, adding that he would not be blackmailed by the strikers.

"You don't mess with the Chilean government or you will feel the full force of the law."

The blockades left roads in the southern districts of the city such as Puente Alto, San Bernardo and Melipilla in gridlock for several hours.

Police used cranes to remove hundreds of buses from the road before dawn, until traffic slowly began to return to normal in the afternoon.

See also:

18 Jul 02 | Country profiles
01 Aug 02 | Business
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