Hundreds of taxi drivers blocked access to roads and airports in the French capital as the protest against the spread of U.S rideshare service, Uber, escalates around the city. The coordinated national protest by the French taxi drivers turned violent on Thursday as the protesters set the car tires on fire, flipped vehicles and burned effigies of the Uber drivers.
The French riot police was called on the scene, as the access to and from major highways and airports around the city is blocked. More protests are planned in other cities around France and the French television reported the use of tear gas by the riot police in an attempt to take control of the situation.
According to the reports, the French taxi drivers must obtain a licence that can rack up a cost of up €240,000 and are protesting against the Uber's private drivers service, which is cutting into their revenue and is in addition presenting an unfair competition.
Not all taxi drivers joined the protest. Taxis who were still transporting passengers to and from airports and were not engaged in the protest were met with the protesting taxi drivers' wrath, including throwing eggs at the passing taxis and even physical scuffling with non-participating taxi drivers.
The government has already called on a ban of UberPOP application, supporting the taxi drivers’ protest but has urged the protestors to remain calm.
UberPOP service is an app which boasts around 1 million users in France. The app connects the drivers with the potential passengers who can use the service at a much lower rate than with a traditional taxi service. Although a law has been passed in 2014 banning putting unregistered drivers in touch with passengers, Uber has repeatedly contested this decision, citing that it infringes on the freedom to do business. Although the service has been banned in France, Uber has not taken its drivers off the road.
The Paris protests have proved to be the most chaotic and fiercest from among the numerous protests around Europe against the San Francisco-based company, Uber. #News