SANTIAGO – Hundreds of taxi drivers protested on Monday with their vehicles in downtown Santiago against the government’s plan to regulate ride-hailing firms like Uber and Cabify.
The caravan of taxis, which had the authorization of the authorities to stage the demonstration, traversed several kilometers through downtown Santiago, including a stretch along the Alameda, the capital’s main avenue, and passed in front of La Moneda Palace, the seat of the Chilean executive branch.
Many vehicles were adorned with black and yellow balloons and flags, the same colors of typical cabs in Chile, and bore signs against Uber and Cabify, which the drivers consider to be illegal services.
The protest obliged the police to cut traffic along several streets but there were no reported incidents or violent situations.
Luis Reyes, the president of the Confenetach taxi drivers’ national union, said in remarks to Radio Cooperativa that the union rejected the bill the government presented on July 20 to regulate the functioning of the transportation services.
“We don’t like this project ... it was very improvised what (Transport Minister Gloria Hutt) sent to Parliament. We did not even have the possibility to make a joint analysis of that project,” the union chief said.
The government’s bill says that drivers of services like Uber and Cabify will have to have professional chauffer’s licenses and must not have criminal records for sexual or drug-related crimes.
In addition, they will have to register their services as transportation businesses and pay taxes.
Taxi drivers claim that Uber and Cabify create unfair competition and are demanding that the bill limit the number of vehicles that can provide such transport services.
Hutt urged the drivers to express their dissatisfaction verbally, but not with demonstrations.