London Mayor Ken Livingstone has announced a new scheme to deter human traffickers from driving through the capital. From February small vans carrying more than twenty-five illegal immigrants in the back will have to pay a £10 congestion charge instead of the standard £8. The increased charges will apply during office hours between Monday to Friday in order to deter the East European gangmasters who are selling thousands of illegal immigrants into virtual slavery.
However the plans have come under criticism from some environmentalists who see it as an attack on the principle that vehicle sharing should be encouraged. ‘Whatever else you might think of them, human traffickers at least have a green approach to transport,’ said David Pugh of PlanetWatch UK. ‘When we are trying to encourage commuters to share a car, Ken Livingstone comes along and attacks people who are managing to cram twenty or thirty people into one small vehicle. We don’t want to get to the situation where human traffickers are driving lots of big 4x4s with just one Chinese illegal immigrant sitting in the back. The traffic in London is bad enough as it is.’
Maskim Ademi from Albania also attacked the plans. ‘Is unfair to single out human traffickers for increased charge. Why not doctors or teachers? I will have to pass on cost to workers I bring to England. They in more debt to me, work longer as prostitutes. Is tough world.’
Meanwhile residents of Kensington and Chelsea opposed to the Congestion Charge are continuing to lobby for a higher discount than the 90% that is currently being proposed.