Unions representing the road haulage industry and transport workers in Sweden have requested the government refrain from introducing draconian measures against their sector following the terror attack in Stockholm.
“It is the terrorists who are the problem, not the trucks and drivers,” the Swedish government heard in a meeting with trade unions, representatives from the trucking industry, and vehicle manufacturers on Thursday.
Communications manager of the trade association for haulage industries in Sweden, Erika Svanström, asked the government to refrain from taking knee-jerk actions that could damage the transport sector.
“You have to have moderation and balance regarding new legislation,” she told SVT.
Vehicles today are “already equipped with many features” that can help prevent terror attacks, according to Ms. Svanström, who added the point that technology will likely be able to provide further solutions such as automatic breaks on trucks.
Acting chair of the Transport Workers Union, Markus Pettersson, agreed and pointed out it is vital that new rules take workers’ lives into consideration.
The union boss said his members are uncomfortable with the idea that they would be considered a terror threat, pointing out to politicians that not once in Europe has anyone involved in haulage or transport been themselves involved in a terror attack.
Fingerprint readers were one of the technological solutions to truck terror attacks touted at the meeting that Pettersson warned could put drivers’ lives in danger.
“We don’t want the ‘solution’ to terrorism to be one in which drivers’ bodies act as a key to our vehicles,” the industry representative said, noting: “A driver was killed in the Berlin attack because the perpetrator wanted his truck, so a ‘solution’ like [a fingerprint reader] would not help.”
Promising the government will avoid enacting any ‘hasty’ laws, infrastructure minister Anna Johansson said truck drivers should just be careful not to fall victim to hijackers intent on carrying out an attack.
“To be absolutely 100 per cent protected from all of these kinds of situations is probably impossible but there are things that governments and drivers can do.
“One example might be thinking about how vehicles might be secured during loading. Another might be how we can design urban environments in a more thoughtful way,” she said.
Following the attack in Stockholm earlier this month, in which a known Islamic State sympathiser and illegal immigrant from Uzbekistan mowed down crowds of pedestrians in the Swedish capital, politicians have been quick to play down any suggestion that open borders migration policies could have played a part in the tragedy.
But Justice Minister Morgan Johansson demanded Erik Nord “explain himself” when the Greater Gothenburg police chief said Sweden should be able to deport migrants who vocalise support for “violent extremism”.
Defending the right of extremists to stay in Sweden, the Social Democratic party politician pointed to the nation’s “freedom of speech”, but added that this doesn’t include “hate speech”.
Johansson also warned that migrants could risk “persecution” in their homelands if they were deported.
One Swedish newspaper proposed an extreme solution to the recent trend of terrorists suing cars and trucks to kill in their rampages — banning the vehicles from city centres altogether. An Aftonbladet editorial said cars and other vehicles “have turned into deadly weapons” and “effective murder machines”.
“Vehicles have been allowed to dominate our cities for decades and it’s the people who need space. It’s vital now that cars be regulated,” the piece concludes.