Colombian Taxi Guild Again Threatens Chaos, Airport Takeovers, Upset Over Driver Platforms Like Über, InDriver, DiDI
Hugo Ospina, President of the Association of Taxi Owners and Drivers or Asoprotax, has again threatened a mass mobilization of the country’s taxi drivers if the government does not pass legislation that prohibits transportation platforms and services like Uber from the Colombia.
“We are going to give all for all, and if this government or someone else says that they are going to approve old private vehicles to provide the service, we are going to mobilize throughout the country and take over the airports,” said Opsina.
During an interview with the television program Noticias RCN, Ospina complained about the treatment of cab drivers in the country, whom he claims are being adversely affected by transportation apps and are being pushed into suicide due to the economic effects that they are experiencing with the new competition. He does not mention the dismal reputation taxi drivers, especially in Bogotá have, for ripping off, and even robbing passengers.
“Why don’t you see that there are many taxi drivers in the country who have committed suicide in the last two years? There are ten because they lost their house and lost their taxi, since nobody here wants to control informal transportation. Why don’t they look at what is happening with us in the country?” he said.
Guillermo Reyes, the Minister of Transportation, expressed disappointment at Ospina’s threat of a mass mobilization of taxi drivers in the country, saying that he is “opposed to the blockades,” and calling for a formal sit-down meeting to hammer out a proposal that could satisfy the taxi guild and keep them from striking.
“Since October we have a taxi drivers’ worktable, we have been building, among other regulations, the bill with them. When they say that they are going to block, my question is: Why can’t we talk? That is the invitation, to all taxi drivers, to all Über drivers. This is a country that cannot have exclusions, the change lies in that, in sitting down to build on the basis of a consensus,” Reyes said.
In a tweet about the situation, President Gustavo Petro said, “They seek to pit some workers against other workers, so that the chaos does not allow a peaceful climate for social reforms,” saying that “[both] the people who work on platforms and the taxi drivers” are overexploited.
Reyes has been pushing for a new proposal that increases sanctions on drivers of vehicles for private transportation apps in the wake of increasing protests from the taxi drivers in the country.
“This is the bill that seeks to establish and modify the entire issue of the sanctioning regime of the transport sector and there we are going to deal with the issue of how we are going to fight against informality and illegality in transportation,” he said. “We cannot allow private cars and motorcycles to provide a public transportation service that is not formalized.”
Despite this, Reyes has also promised that the new proposal will not be aiming to disallow or ban transportation apps like Über, DiDi, and InDriver in the country: “Nowhere does the draft of the project establish the prohibition of the provision of transport services through the platforms.”
Above photo: Violent anti-Über taxi protest where taxi drivers threw eggs at passing cars (Photo: Loren Moss)