A number of taxi drivers threatened to stage an open-ended sit-in if private companies are permitted to continue with what they describe as “unfair competition.”
Several rows of white taxis were lined up in Giza blocking traffic on Tuesday. Police fired blank shots into the air in an attempt to get drivers to move their vehicles, the Masr al-Arabiya news portal reported, adding that there were minor scuffles, but no serious injuries.
Staged outside the Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen, this is the second protest by taxi drivers against app-based competition in recent weeks. Drivers and owners of white taxis organized their first rally on February 4.
Protesters called for the government to take legal action against Uber and Careem, claiming they are threatening their incomes and livelihoods with unfair competition. “We won’t give up, we won’t give in … The rights of taxi drivers must not be forgotten,” they chanted.
Member of parliament Mohamed al-Komy attended the rally on Tuesday and tried to persuade drivers to halt their protest until parliament reviews new draft legislation, reportedly by March 27, regulating their app-based competitors, Masr al-Arabiya reported.
As in other countries where taxi drivers have objected to the new app-based services — including France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Canada — Uber’s administrators deny that they are engaged in unfair competition, asserting that they pay taxes, provide job opportunities for thousands of drivers and provide a reliable service with a growing customer base.
The ones who will win this dispute are those providing the cheapest and most dependable service, the privately-owned Al-Watan newspaper asserted.
On Tuesday, Uber Egypt sought to promote itself and its services via a campaign of corporate social responsibility, the “Uber Economic Empowerment Program,” aimed at providing young people and women with the resources, education and training to become Uber partner-drivers, entrepreneurs and small business owners.”