BUENOS AIRES – Hundreds of taxi drivers once again took to the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday to protest the activity by ride-hailing services such as Uber and Cabify, which – they say – have reduced their own business by “more than 50 percent” in recent months.
The drivers, grouped around the SPT taxi drivers’ union, caused simultaneous roadway blockages at some 10 spots around the Argentine capital, tie-ups that they say will be created again on Thursday if the city government does not provide them with an “immediate response.”
“The passivity of the government surprises us. We did all the complaints we had to do. They said that Uber is illegal but, however, it’s spreading,” one driver told TN television.
The complaints, which were filed last Thursday in a similar demonstration, were “against illegal transportation” in Buenos Aires, a move that the drivers are making against not only Uber – which has no license to operate – but also against Cabify, which, although it is regulated, they also consider to be illegal.
In that regard, the union says that these services “are operating without authorization or permission, violating the National Transit Law and evading prevailing labor, tax and social laws in the country.”
“There’s no control over the vehicles, over the insurance, over the taxes they must pay, or over the passengers, and – moreover – we don’t even know who the drivers are,” the taxi driver added in his comments to TN.
According to the taxi drivers, the activity on these platforms has cut their business by “more than 50 percent” taking the sector to the verge of bankruptcy.
“We’re in a chaotic situation ... business is almost ruined, the drivers are working up to 12 hours and some are sleeping in their cars to be able to provide for their families,” said the driver.
The protests were staged from 9 am to 11 am and affected traffic at key access points to the capital and along some of the main avenues, including 9 de Julio Ave. and San Juan Ave., where the drivers occupied two of the streets’ lanes.
The conflict began in 2016 when Uber began operating in the Argentine capital despite having no permits or other authorization to do so.
In fact, last November, the Buenos Aires government approved a law to halt Uber’s spread by increasing penalties for those who transport passengers illegally, as Uber drivers are doing, but the service has continued to operate in the capital.