TODAY PANAM – The gloves are off between Panama taxi drivers and the Uber system with both sides gearing up to claim their right to serve the city’s traveling public, while the transit authority stands on the sidelines.
The actions of the yellow hornet drivers are having a more visible effect on road users, as they expand their road closures and demonstrations.
The latest came on Tuesday, May 17 when a group of taxi drivers partially closed Via Espana near the El Carmen Church causing major traffic jams in many sectors of the city as drivers sought alternate routes, while police were diverted from other duties to the protest site.
“Our focus areas are public roads and there we are going to defend ourselves,” said taxista leader Rafael Reyes
Reyes said that following the commissioning of Uber hundreds of local drivers have suffered losses. He said they have even been able to corroborate that Uber drivers has already been allowed entry Tocumen International Airport, where they are officially banned, to pick up passengers.
“With this taxi drivers who go out to work day, night, and those engaged in the tourism sector lose,” said Reyes and called on the Transit Authority ATTT to clamp down on Uber.
Meanwhile Uber responded with its weapon of choice – the smart phone – and called on users to sign a petition that “defends” the right of users and partner drivers to choose how to travel and work.
The message under the heading PanamaNoPara invites the public to “enjoy a new alternative mobility.”
Meanwhile a few block from the protest taxi drivers were practicing their traditional “No voy” (not going where the passenger wants) routine which the ATTT which claims Uber’s operation “’is not within the framework of legality” has failed to curb.