Colombian taxi drivers, unhappy with new competition and the inaction of authorities, have been holding up and verbally assaulting Uber drivers and their passengers.
With Uber, users can easily request and pay for a ride from an app on a smartphone. Taxi drivers are complaining that this service is unfair competition, it is illegal and that the company does not pay taxes or licensing fees.
Eight taxi drivers encircled, detained and verbally abused an Uber driver and his passenger, Nathalie Prieto, in the capital city of Bogota for over an hour on Friday night. Prieto said the taxis almost crashed into the car while they were attempting to stop it.
A video uploaded by the group of vigilantes shows the frenzied drivers telling the Uber driver and passenger that the service is unauthorized and demand that they get out of the car. In the video, one taxi driver said, “this is a pirate service and we are going to put an end to it.”
Hugo Ospina, a representative for the Association of Taxi Drivers and Owners (Asoproctax), said that this holdup was not a unique occurrence. There have been 19 such incidents in the past week alone.
Although he condemned these unauthorized attacks he added that the police had been informed of the intentions of several taxi drivers a few weeks ago and that nothing had been done to stop the illegal operation of Uber and appease taxi drivers.
Ospina warned that the action of these vigilante taxi drivers, searching for and stopping drivers who provide the service for Uber, will continue until the authorities resolve the conflict.
The Transport Secretary said that the issue is the responsibility of the transit police, who have not taken a stand on the matter.
Uldarico Peña, owner of the company Taxi Imperial, said that the unauthorized actions of these vigilantes must stop and admitted that one of the taxi drivers involved was employed by his company.
According to Peña the employee in question will be sanctioned. The businessman added that it was not the responsibility of taxi drivers to take action against Uber but that of the Ministry of Transport and the transit police; “we cannot take jurisdiction into our own hands.”