SANTIAGO – Some 3,000 taxi drivers paralyzed downtown Santiago on Monday to press demands for regulation of ride-sharing apps Uber and Cabify.
The cabbies formed a procession extending 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) along the capital’s main thoroughfare, Bernardo O’Higgins.
Traffic came to a halt near La Moneda palace, the seat of government, where the taxi protest crossed paths with demonstrations mounted by Chile’s LGBT community against the so-called Freedom Bus, an initiative of religious conservatives perceived as hostile to LGBT people.
Organizations representing taxi drivers accuse the government of inaction in regard to Uber and Cabify, who have expanded their activities beyond Santiago to other Chilean cities such as Viña del Mar, Valparaiso, Concepcion and Temuco.
“The apps wipe out taxis night and day,” National Taxi Confederation head Nicolas Sayes told Radio Cooperativa. “The situation is already extreme. There are many people who are losing their vehicles.”
“We cannot go on waiting,” he said, dismissing the government’s current oversight of ride-sharing serves as “nonexistent.”
Cabbies complain that they are subject to onerous taxes and regulations which don’t apply to Uber and Cabify.
A bill to regulate the app-based firms has been languishing in Congress for months.
Chilean cabbies have seen their incomes decline between 30 percent and 35 percent since the arrival of Uber and Cabify, according to industry associations.