Taxi drivers in Bogota went on strike to protest against private vehicles providing transport services through mobile platforms. The strike began in the evening when the transporters blocked the entrance to El Dorado Airport on the capital’s 26th street.
The taxi drivers’ guild decided to go on strike after a meeting they had with the government a couple of days ago. The professionals believe that the government has failed to fulfill its promises to regulate private vehicles providing transportation services through these platforms.
The Colombian justice system ruled in favor of the use of this technology. A spokesperson for the taxi guild clarified that the protest is not against the platforms themselves but “against the way different individuals access them to engage in unfair competition.”
The protest also calls for the restoration of the agreement that regulates the circulation of buses and taxis between Bogota and the city of Soacha to avoid harming the business of taxi drivers living on the outskirts of the capital.
Protests disrupt mobility in the capital
Blockades began on the night of October 24th to 25th, especially on the road leading to the airport. By morning, taxi drivers initiated slow marches in various parts of the capital, including Suba, Bosa, Kennedy, Engativá, and Portal Usme.
“The invitation is to participate at all strategic points. We will make our strike felt by all government entities, especially the Traffic Department, for the abuses they have committed against us and their failure to combat illegality,” said a strike spokesperson.
Given that the judiciary has determined that various digital platforms for private transport are legal in Colombia, these applications continue to operate without legal consequences.
“The debate is not about the platform; it’s about whether they will allow a platform to keep accrediting vehicles to provide passenger services, a power exclusive to the Ministry of Transportation,” clarified Hugo Ospina, president of the Association of Taxi Owners and Drivers (Asoproctax) to Red+Noticias.
“We apologize, but the government has failed us.”
Ospina apologized to the public for the inconveniences caused by the taxi drivers’ protests but asserted that the Colombian government has failed to fulfill its promises to regulate the use of digital platforms.
The taxi drivers’ dissatisfaction also arises from what they claim are abuses committed by traffic officers. In this regard, the president of the main transport guild went so far as to demand the resignation of the Minister of Transportation.
“We are telling the national government and the president, Mr. President, you said that any minister who doesn’t fulfill his duties would be replaced, and we respectfully request that you ask the minister and deputy minister of Transportation to resign because they are not fulfilling their duties and not heeding our demands. Therefore, we ask for the resignation of the minister and deputy minister of Transportation,” said Hugo Ospina.
Similarly, taxi drivers are requesting involvement in the transportation agreement between Bogota and Soacha, the most significant city in the capital’s periphery. The agreement, which regulates bus and taxi transport, is set to expire on November 7th. The termination of the operation of buses and taxis from the municipality in the capital would adversely affect taxi fares, making it difficult for drivers living in Soacha and working in Bogotá.
Differential gas price
A few weeks ago, the guild and the government announced an agreement to create a differential gasoline rate for taxi drivers. This was in response to the significant increase in fuel prices, which the State planned after discontinuing fuel price subsidies.
Hugo Ospina alleges that the government has also failed in this regard. “The national government had promised to provide bonuses or differential prices to help taxi drivers buy gasoline, but they did not fulfill it,” said the taxi spokesperson.
Ospina now contradicts the agreement he had previously celebrated, following the announcement of a special rate for taxi professionals. “We’re not even seeking assistance with the price of gasoline; we want the way they’re raising this rate monthly for all Colombians to be reviewed,” Ospina emphasized, once again calling for the resignation of the Minister of Transportation, William Camargo.