STRIKE BY FUEL TRUCK DRIVERS THREATENS TO HALT BRAZILIAN CITY

STRIKE BY FUEL TRUCK DRIVERS THREATENS TO HALT BRAZILIAN CITY

Bustling Sao Paulo, which likes to call itself "the city that never stops," could grind to a halt within days because of an acute fuel shortage.

Truck drivers who distribute fuel in the Southern Hemisphere's largest city have been on strike since Thursday to press a demand for an 87 percent increase in freight charges.But the drivers say the Brazilian government is only willing to give them 30 percent.

On Monday, some taxi drivers waited in line for two hours to get their fuel. Most taxis in this city of about 16 million are powered by alcohol produced from sugar cane.

Santos, the maritime gateway for Sao Paulo as well as Latin America's most important port, is threatened with a possible work stoppage because of the fuel shortage, officials of the state port company Codesp said.

Brinks SA, an armored car company, told the financial daily Gazeta Mercantil it will have problems running its fleet if there is no resupply before Tuesday.

The truck drivers' union said it was allowing supplies of gasoline, alcohol and diesel fuel to essential services such as police, firemen and hospitals.

Sao Paulo police said traffic accidents over the weekend were sharply down because motorists were keeping the fuel in their tanks for essential driving.

Truck drivers met with the government Monday to discuss the demand for higher freight charges.