Bus, taxis drivers in Erbil protest coronavirus travel ban

Bus and taxi drivers protest at Erbil-Baghdad Garage transportation terminal and call on authorities to reopen routes between Erbil and other areas of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq in Erbil, Kurdistan Region/ Iraq on August 6, 2020. (Photo Credit: NRT Digital Media)

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SULAIMANI — Bus and taxi drivers protested at a transportation terminal in Erbil city on Thursday (August 6) calling on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to re-open routes between Erbil and other areas of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

Gathering at the Erbil-Baghdad Garage, the drivers complained that they had been out of business for more than four months due to the coronavirus travel ban in the Region, noting that their counterparts in Sulaimani had already begun operations to governorates in central and southern Iraq.

“Our demand is to be treated like the drivers from Sulaimani, Baghdad, Kirkuk, Kifri, Kalar, and Chamchamal,” one of the protesters told an NRT reporter.

“We are in a region that became three states. The roads have been opened between Sulaimani and Baghdad and there is no problem,” he added, saying that large numbers of tourists from outside the Kurdistan Region had visited Sulaimani over the Eid al-Adha holiday.

The protesters also argued that it was unfair that restaurants and other businesses are allowed to open, but their industry cannot return to normal.

According to the KRG’s health ministry, there have been 15,577 cases of coronavirus in the Kurdistan Region and 597 patients have died as of Wednesday night. In Iraq as a whole, there have been 137,556 cases and 5,094 deaths.

Although Sulaimani has recorded the highest total number of cases in the Kurdistan Region since the beginning of March, in recent weeks Erbil has had the highest number of new cases per day.

(NRT Digital Media)