Taxi drivers came together to protest against Uber and other mobile ride-hailing applications by blocking the main road to Chile’s principal airport. There was reportedly one death during the chaotic day at the nation’s main airport in Santiago.
The shocking event was a form of retaliation from taxi drivers who are suffering from Uber’s dominance. Chile’s government reiterated that it would bring charges against those who were responsible for the protests and have reportedly arrested 15 suspects at the moment. The protests led to the death of a 65-year-old Brazilian tourist who was stuck in traffic at the time of the incident. Officials claim the man died of cardiovascular issues, but a medical helicopter was sent to the location in an attempt to revive the victim. Governor of the Santiago Metropolitan Region Claudio Orrego had the following statement about the events:
“This takeover of the airport by the taxi drivers has significantly hurt the image of Chile, the image of the airlines, and has hurt people traveling or arriving in the country.”
Uber’s presence in Chile has become slightly rough as legislation is attempting to regulate Uber and Cabify in the nation, as the services are currently in a legal gray zone. Reuters reports that “while some authorities have promised to sanction users of the widely used applications, they have also expressed a desire to bring the services within Chile’s existing regulatory framework.” The taxi drivers in the Santiago area claim they are facing unfair competition with Uber as their prices and accessibility have become a problem for traditional taxi drivers. They also claim it is unfair competition from “drivers who don’t pay huge license fees to the state and undercut them.” The same taxi drivers who participated in these protests reiterated that they would repeat the protests until action has been taken against Uber and its drivers.
Taxi drivers in Chile are facing a time of crisis, but regardless of their disapproval of Uber, every party can agree that the loss of a life was a tragic casualty that could have been prevented.