Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Taxi Drivers Planning Nationwide Protest Against Uber

QCOSTARICA – It’s the new year, the holidays are over and time get back to daily life in Costa Rica, that includes getting the kids for back to school in a few weeks and to take to the streets to protest for something or other.

Uber began operating in Costa Rica last August. The company says they have seen growth in riders and drivers
Uber began operating in Costa Rica last August. The company says they have seen growth in riders and drivers

The first group to announce a protest are taxi drivers, upset about Uber’s  continued operation in the country.

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According to Ruben Vargas, president of the Costa Rican Union of Taxi Drivers (Unión Costarricense de Taxistas – UCT), they are meeting Monday afternoon to define actions against Uber, that could lead to road blocks and “tortuguismo” (slowdowns) in many areas of the country.

Vargas did not specify a date, only saying it could be as early as in a couple of days, all to be defined at the meeting that starts at 4pm todya. The union leader would not say what areas would be affected and if bus drivers and tourism operators would join in the protest.

“We are readying a nationwide movement to probably stop all traffic countrywide for one day, the strongest action to be in San Jose,” said Vargas.

The UCT is also expected to file a lawsuit in the Administrative Court (Tribunal Contencioso-Administrativo) to pressure the government to block Uber.

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At the National Taxi Drivers Forum (Foro Nacional de Taxistas), president Gilber Ureña, said they are also preparing measures to pressure authorities.

“Before Wednesday we will have a meeting with drivers and carriers (including tourist operators) to see what action to take,” said Ureña.

The Public Transport Council (Consejo de Transporte Público – CTP), months ago, said Uber must abide by regulations of the public transport if they want to operate legally in the country.

But, since the start of operations last August, Uber has been operating openly and according to the company growing in number of users and drivers.

One Uber driver, speaking to the Q on the basis of anonymity, said he can earn up to ¢50,000 colones working from four to six hours in a shift. Juan (not his real name), typically  works only 4 or 5 days a week, logs into Uber in the evening, working the late hours, seeking out rides between Alajuela, Heredia and San Pedro – longer rides – and even trips to the Pacific beaches.

“I earn more that working a regular job”, said Juan, who has been a Uber driver for almost a month.

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