Taxis block Brussels in Uber protest
Hundreds of taxi drivers from Belgium and France brought central Brussels to a virtual standstill Tuesday with their vehicles in a protest against the web-based taxi app Uber.
Police said a go-slow procession of 627 cabs several kilometres (miles) long drove through the city before stopping at the headquarters of the European Union.
They hooted their horns, set off fireworks and blocked roads around the EU building for several hours, causing huge traffic jams.
US-based Uber allows non-professional drivers to become chauffeurs-for-hire at rates far lower than normal taxi rides.
It is banned in Belgium but operates instead under the name UberPop under a law which allows individual vehicle hire.
“We have to pay our taxes and our insurance, while these guys get away with it. I think that’s unjust,” said Antonino Namonica, one of the drivers taking part in the protest.
“Either Uber is banned in all towns and countries around the world, or it is a profession that requires rules.”
Around 100 French taxi drivers travelled to Brussels to take part in the protest.
Uber, which operates in about 250 cities in 50 countries, has become an object of scorn from traditional taxi companies fighting for survival against the rise of the Silicon Valley challenger, founded in 2009.