SAN JOSE – Chinese ride hailing app DiDi announced on Tuesday it has begun operating in Costa Rica with at least 5,000 registered drivers.
The company opened with promotions and discounts for the first trips in what is the fifth country in which it has a presence in Latin America after Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Mexico.
DiDi reported that it would charge 15 percent of the total fare for each trip – the rest will be for the driver – and that during the first few days in Costa Rica users will receive discounts of up to 50 percent.
The app is available in five of Costa Rica’s seven provinces and aims to give strong competition to Uber, which started operations in the Central American country in 2015.
According to data from Uber, Costa Rica, with 5 million inhabitants, is one of the countries with the world’s highest penetration of the app, with about 22,000 drivers and about 780,000 users.
Uber and DiDi operate in the country even without the existence of any regulations for such app-based transport service platforms, and where taxi drivers constantly stage protests demanding millions in compensation or urging the government to block these apps.
For four years, taxi drivers have been demanding competition on equal terms or the shutdown of the application, while there have also been certain periods when the transport police have booked vehicles working through Uber, given that the government has labeled it as an illegal transportation service.
A couple of months ago, the legislature shot down a bill introduced by the government to regulate transport apps – which Uber also opposed – as it involved fixing high charges on businesses and drivers, along with other controversial points such as economic aid to taxi drivers.
The Congress has been studying a new bill backed by several legislators, but no significant progress has been made yet.