KHARTOUM– Strikes in protest against low income and worsening economic conditions held on Sunday paralysed vital sectors in Sudan.

Thousands of workers and students in the capital Khartoum had to go to work or school on foot after owners of public transport buses staged a strike to protest high fees of licensing, traffic fines and taxes. 

More than 75 percent of the population living in Khartoum depends on buses as their main transport. 

“Today we were surprised by the strike of bus owners, which forced us to walk to the college,” said Ramzi Saleh, a student at Optical Science College in Omdurman, a city in the State of Khartoum. 

“This is an additional suffering under the economic deterioration,” Saleh told Xinhua.

Abdul-Rahim Fadl, an owner of a public transport bus in Khartoum, however, defended the strike decision. 

“There are significant increases in licensing fees, traffic fines and taxes on the transport sector. We cannot afford them under the current transport fees,” he said. 

The transport sector is not the only one that has seen strikes, as several universities have witnessed students’ strikes from time to time against the high tuition fees. 

A total of 20 educational unions on Sunday issued a statement, criticizing the increase in tuition fees in universities by nearly 800 percent.

“Under the current economic conditions, the increase in university fees constitutes an additional burden on Sudanese families,” the statement said. 

“During the past year, more than 100 days were lost because of repeated strikes which had a negative impact on important service and production sectors,” said Kamal Awad, a Sudanese economic analyst.

Sudan has been suffering from an economic crisis because of the depreciation of the national currency, the increase in inflation rates and the rise in prices of consumer goods, at a time when the official authorities are trying to address the revenue deficit by hiking fees and taxes. 

The United States has suspended 700 million U.S. dollars in economic aid to Sudan, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) halted 150 million dollars in special drawing rights for the country.

The World Bank also failed to offer Sudan the 500 million dollars due in November 2021. 

Sudan’s debt relief process under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative of the IMF has also been suspended. – Xinhua