Nation: Taxi drivers protest against Uber, again

(caption for the above picture: Taxi drivers protesting in Christchurch on September 5)

A group of over 50 taxi drivers, belonging to all major taxi companies in the city - including Blue Star and Gold Band, organised a two-hour protest in Christchurch on September 5, against what they called government's "inadequate action" on dealing with Uber. It was the part of nationwide action taken by taxi drivers against the billion-dollar multi-national, with similar protests taking place in Auckland and Wellington – just outside the Parliament.

Jaspinder Pal Singh, who has been driving a taxi in Christchurch since 2009, and was the main organiser of the protest informed, "What Uber drivers have been doing in our city is completely illegal. Their tariff is not fixed, they drive without proper endorsements on their driving licenses, they don't maintain any log-books, have less rigorous background checks, and they don't have any camera installed in their cars. Since the government is not listening, our only resort is to keep protesting. While we welcome competition, it has to be within the confines of the law. There has to be a level playing field for all concerned parties."

A similar such protest was organised by the taxi companies in July, when assurances were given but nothing has been done so far, Pal complained.
Notably, majority of taxi drivers in Christchurch are migrants, with almost 70 to 80 percent from the sub-continent, who are feeling the heat as Uber started operating in the City in April.
The New Zealand Transport Authority, so far has maintained that what Uber is doing in Christchurch, and rest of the country is “illegal”, and that it has made “this clear to Uber, to the public and to potential Uber drivers in Christchurch”.

The Minister Nicky Wagner who met the taxi companies representatives at the earlier protest had also noted then their concerns relating to the requirements of P-endorsements, work-time limits, vehicle Certificate of Fitness, and in-vehicle cameras. She had also informed them that the Cabinet has already agreed on the policy changes for the new system and these are being included in the Land Transport Amendment Bill, which will be considered by a select committee in 2016. A number of Transport Rules are also being changed, details of which will be released soon, the Minister had said then.

“We have been getting such assurances for months now but nothing has been happening on the ground. When we approach the authorities, we are always told that changes are coming soon. When, nobody knows. So while Uber keeps operating in New Zealand, we are loosing our precious income,” concluded Pal.