Colombian authorities are searching for three men after a car allegedly registered with taxi service Uber was set on fire in the capital Bogota on Monday night, reported El Espectador.
The owner of the vehicle claimed that the men responsible were all local taxi drivers, according to the head of Bogota Transit and Transport.
With the assistance of CCTV cameras, authorities confirmed that the vehicle was intercepted near Avenida Boyaca by three men in a Kia Picanto taxi.
From there they pursued the Uber vehicle through several streets, before the driver decided to give up and abandon his car. The men in question consequently surrounded his vehicle, doused it in gasoline and set it alight.
“A Volkswagen vehicle set on fire, we were aware by radio, the units of the quadrant attended, we are in the investigative stage to achieve the identification of the perpetrators of the event,” said Inspection Officer of the Bogota Police, Lieutenant Colonel Angel Acosta reported RCN News.
In the wake of the events, Uber released a statement which asked for the National Police to take action in the name of public safety.
We respectfully request the National Police to protect the rights and security of Colombians, without distinction, and reiterate our desire to stop the persecution which they experience daily that has generated situations which puts the safety of citizens at risk.
The statement also requested Colombia’s congress to “proceed as quickly as possible with the Citizen Initiative Law (#18 of 2016)… that has the backing of more than 3 million Colombians who, through their signatures, request a law for private transport through technological platforms from congress and the national government.”
In November 2015 President Santos granted Uber 6 months to register as a formal company or be banned from the country. Uber did not comply and hence was deemed illegal, with 1200 vehicles seized consequently in June 2016. They are also facing disputes over unpaid taxes and labor laws.
In a statement the administration of the Department of Mobility called on the government to resolve the legal issues surrounding Uber, reported El Espectador.
“The district of Bogota considers it both urgent and crucial that national regulation defines the legality of Uber, and other unconventional public transport services in all of Colombia’s cities,” read the statement.
However, the San Francisco-based Uber believes that the Colombian government is infringing on consumer rights by protecting the traditional taxi industry and its drivers, who are furious at the competition.
With 30,000 drivers and 450,000 users, the public demand for Uber is undeniable in Colombia, no more so than in Bogota, where many locals have complained about expensive, unpredictable prices and rude taxi drivers.
Yet, with an increasingly irate population of taxi drivers and Colombia’s government claiming illegality over their operation, Uber must find a way to legitimately establish themselves in Colombia before more incidences like this take place.