Apparently At War With Alternative Transportation, Duque Administration Orders Liquidation of Picap Ride Hailing Service
Almost simultaneously with a ruling against Uber, Supertransporte, the enforcement organ of Colombia’s Ministry of Transportation (above photo) has ordered the liquidation of CAP Technologies S.A.S.; the company behind the Picap brand of mobility, a local alternative to Uber.
In a statement issued by the ministry on December 21, the decision to shutter Picap was due to “the critical situation in legal, financial and accounting matters, and above all to provide a solution to the safety of users of the transportation sector, and legality through adequate provision of transportation service.
Unlike Uber, Picap offers an option for motorcycle rides in addition to private cars. “The activity undertaken by CAP Technologies is illegal because it is not authorized to provide public transportation service, and also because the law prohibits passengers on a motorcycle, said the ministry in a statement, even though it is generally legal in Colombia to carry passengers.
These moves come not because of impartial arms-length investigations according to the head of the taxi syndicate Hugo Ospina, but because of a deal cut between the taxi leaders and President Ivan Duque for the taxi leaders not to join other unions and groups in massive protests against the deeply unpopular government.
Ospina said proudly in a video he published on Facebook that the administration of President Ivan Duque agreed to shut down the platforms in a deal that the taxi syndicates would not join the November anti-government protests in exchange for Duque doing their bidding regarding alternative mobility such as Picap, Uber, Lime, and others.
In addition to ride hailing platforms, Ospina declared war even on rented electric scooters after winning a court ruling against Uber last month. “We are going to sue the technology platforms that the state declared illegal!” said Ospina in a radio show last month by Semana magazine.
Bogotá suffers from world-class traffic jams, sometimes taking hours to travel short distances. The scooters are seen by many as a popular ecologically friendly alternative that moves commuters quickly through the city’s bicycle lanes. Other cities like Medellín don’t have Bogotá’s traffic woes but suffer from high pollution levels due to geography and other factors. Medellín sits in a valley for example, reducing air circulation and bringing pollution due to emissions to unhealthy levels.
- In November, an organized crime ring of taxi drivers were captured for robbing foreigners in the city center of over $140,000 USD.
- In 2014, seven Bogotá taxi drivers were extradited to the US for murdering an off-duty DEA officer in a botched robbery attempt.
Taxi services in Bogotá suffer a very poor reputation, contributing to the popularity of ride hailing services, which are at times even more expensive—at least compared to official rates. Unlike Medellín and other Colombian cities, taxi operators in Bogotá use a fare system that makes it extremely difficult for the passenger to ascertain the correct legal fare, which is not what the meter says, but based on a formula on a chart that is indecipherable to many locals and most foreigners.
Above photo courtesy of Supertransporte, Superintendencia de Transporte