Portuguese taxi drivers threaten street demos over Uber

ANTRAL, the national association representing Portuguese taxi drivers, is threatening street demos “with a lot of force” in September over the blind-eye that it claims the authorities are giving internet taxi service Uber, deemed illegal by two courts. The drivers claim Uber is clearly acting outside the law but that the government, “particularly secretary of state for transports Sérgio Almeida”, is complicit in the company’s continued operations in Portugal.

ANTRAL president Florêncio Almeida told Lusa: “We cannot allow a situation like this to continue. That is why we will be going onto the streets with all our force to show the government that it has to act and uphold a judicial order from the courts of this country. The government cannot be outside the law. It has to uphold it. That is why it was elected.”

ANTRAL’s frustrations lie in the fact that it is four months since Lisbon’s central tribunal accepted a legal bid to prohibit Uber from activity in Portugal.

The decision was confirmed again in June, but the smartphone service, which undercuts traditional taxis considerably, has carried on regardless, with Uber wiggling round the courts’ decisions on legal technicalities.

For now there has been no data on how much business accredited Portuguese drivers have lost, but no doubt this will follow if protests take to the streets of Portugal’s main cities.

Meantime, another smartphone service has appeared: Wappa – an app originating from Brazil and working very much on the same basis as Uber, but working only with legalised taxi drivers.

Brainchild of Armindo Mota Júnior, the service is currently only available in Lisbon, but should soon extend to Porto as well.