PRAGUE: Up to 1200 taxi drivers participated in a protest against their rival Uber ride-hailing service by blocking the main access roads to and from the international airport in Prague on Monday, David Bednar, from the Association of Czech Taxi Drivers, has told CTK.
The taxi drivers, who launched their protest ride around 10:30, call Uber practices unfair and unlawful.
Using a cell phone application, people can call an Uber driver to take them where needed. Uber says it does not offer taxi services but a shared drive on the principle of shared economy.
The Transport Ministry reacted to the protest saying it is preparing an amendment to the relevant bill that would make the mobile application, used by Uber, and the speedometer, used by taxi cars, equal to each other.
“We cannot ban modern applications and services, only everyone must observe the same rules. This applies to both taxis and Uber. The former have gained a bad reputation by their overpriced services and controversial behaviour, and now they fear competition. The latter violate the law, speaking of shared drives but in fact running a business without any licence or car insurance that are required from taxi drivers,” Minister Dan Tok told CTK.
The protesters say the drivers working for Uber breach laws by driving customers without having a taxi-service licence their cars registered as taxi or equipped without speedometers and a luminous taxi top sign.
About 5,000 taxi cars operate in the 1.5-million Prague, while some 2,000 drivers work for Uber, 1,100 for the rival Liftago company and an unspecified number for Taxify, another similar firm. However, some drivers work for more operators based on mobile applications and classical taxi services simultaneously.
The City Hall has set the maximum price for taxis 28 crowns per kilometre plus 40 crowns as one-off tariff, while Uber asks 9.90 crowns per kilometre plus 25 crowns as one-off tariff.