Taxi drivers are protesting across Mexico to demand stricter regulation of ride-hailing services such as Uber, Didi and Cabify.
Taxis affiliated with the National Movement of Taxi Drivers (MNT) began gathering at different points of Mexico City on Monday morning to travel to the Angel of Independence monument on Reforma avenue, from where they were scheduled to converge on the zócalo at 10:00am for a four-hour rally.
The congregation of taxis caused traffic chaos on several roads this morning including Avenida de los Poetas in Santa Fe and the México-Toluca and México-Pachuca highways.
Taxi drivers from the México state municipalities of Ecatepec, Nezahualcóyotl, Naucalpan, Atizapán and Cuautitlán were expected to join their Mexico City counterparts at the protest in the capital’s central square.
Similar protests against the ride-sharing apps were scheduled to take place in cities in 28 states.
Mexico City MNT president Ignacio Rodríguez said in an interview on Monday that ride-hailing services have grown to such an extent that they pose an existential threat to the taxi industry.
“We’re at risk of disappearing as a sector, for us it’s life or death,” he said.
“These services grow without any control. They don’t want to abide by any regulations or any rules and that has an impact on us,” Rodríguez added.
According to the MNT, taxi drivers have to pay a range of fees and fulfill requirements that don’t apply to drivers who work for app-based ride-hailing services.
Rodríguez said that meetings with authorities have failed to yield any progress on establishing a level-playing field for everyone who works in the transportation sector.
“We’ve favored dialogue but seeing the indifference of our authorities, who are still not respecting the transportation law, we decided to protest,” he said.
The MNT leader offered an apology for the “inconvenience” caused by the Mexico City protest but added that taxi drivers “don’t have any other option.”
The organization previously held a protest against the ride-hailing services at the beginning of June.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said on Sunday that she didn’t understand why the taxi drivers were protesting again, asserting that authorities have listened to their concerns and are looking at ways they can be addressed.
MNT leaders were scheduled to meet at 1:00pm with federal Interior Secretariat undersecretary Ricardo Peralta to discuss their demands.
The organization’s national leader, Bersaín Miranda, called on President López Obrador to intervene.
“. . . We want him to listen to us, to assist us and not leave taxi drivers in a state of defenselessness . . .” he said.
“We may have neglected . . . the quality of service, we admit and recognize that and apologize to [taxi] users. Our challenge is to improve the quality of service as long as we’re given guarantees [from the government] . . .”
Miranda said that 30,000 taxi drivers in Mexico City alone have stopped working in the transportation sector, the result of competition from multinational ride-hailing services.