Hundreds of taxi drivers took to the streets of Lisbon, Porto and Faro on Tuesday in protest to the continued operation of smartphone service Uber, which they claim is flying in the face of two court rulings declaring it illegal.
Florêncio Almeida, head of taxi drivers union ANTRAL, insists the government should be doing more to deal with a situation which is “making fun of the sector, as well as the country”.
The problem, as TVI24 reports this morning, is that there is no specific legislation that forces UBER to stop its competitive service.
It is a problem “all over Europe”, the station explained, as UBER constantly undercuts traditional taxis and continues to attract drivers to join its ranks.
But Almeida countered with the example of what journalists need to exercise their profession in Portugal.
This argument of no specific legislation is bogus, he told TVI24. “If I wanted to start writing as a journalist here I could not, as I am not qualified.
“This is exactly the case with UBER drivers in Portugal. They are not qualified to practice and therefore they are illegal”.
The issue has been inflaming taxi drivers since last summer when UBER first began operating in Lisbon – moving within months to Porto and Faro. It has led to situations where UBER drivers are threatened and even attacked as they try to carry out their business.
Today’s protests were due to take taxi drivers to various points of call, including all the cities’ airports, to highlight the transport sector’s growing unrest.
Meantime, UBER has released a statement, saying: “We know technology can sometimes be disruptive, particularly for a sector that has been facing numerous challenges over the years, but technology is also an important tool for modernising and improving the mobility sector as a whole”.