Thousands of taxi drivers in German cities will protest on Wednesday against what they see as unfair competition from app-using car services such as Uber. Convoys of taxis are expected to block traffic in Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg.
Demonstrations are also planned in London, Paris and Madrid with chaos expected as traditional cabbies protest a rise in unlicensed drivers and chauffeur services that are chipping away at their client base, shaking up the industry.
The organizers of the protest in Berlin have announced that up to 1,000 taxis will take part at noon. “This will cause problems with the traffic,” a police spokesman said on Wednesday.
California-based chauffeur car company Uber is the main target of the drivers’ ire, but it is only one of many new smartphone-dependent car services seen as bypassing strict regulations faced by licensed drivers.
The German Taxi Association (BZP) accused the apps, including WunderCar, Lyft and Uber, of not “respecting the rules”, in a statement on Wednesday.
The demonstration comes just days after Uber was valued at €12 billion, one of the highest ever figures for a technology startup.
Launched in 2009, the Uber app allows clients to connect directly with “black car” services, a thriving model which has seen it and similar companies surge across the globe.
The Berlin protest leaves from Tegel airport at midday.