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'It can't go on like this' - taxis in Uber protest

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'It can't go on like this' - taxis in Uber protest
Taxi drivers outside Berlin's Olympic Stadium. Photo: DPA
15:30 CEST+02:00
Thousands of taxi drivers in German cities protested on Wednesday against what they see as unfair competition from app-using car services such as Uber and Blacklane. Convoys of taxis took to the streets in Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg.

The Local caught up with taxi drivers as they began their demonstration at Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

Siegfried Liebesgesell, 64, from Berlin has been a taxi driver for 35 years and said he was appalled at what companies such as Uber and Blacklane (a German limousine car service) have done to the industry.

“It has to be regulated. It has to be fair. It cannot go on like this anymore. We have to pay for all the costs and our licenses. They pay for nothing except their cars and petrol,” he said.

Liebesgesell said that there were around 7,000 taxi drivers in Berlin, 2000 of which are self-employed and the rest are fully employed.

Taxi drivers no longer find passengers waiting in the usual spots anymore, he said.

Fellow taxi driver Nico Tonkas from Greece agreed.

“There has been much less work since these apps came out. They are cashing in the money without paying out. Berlin taxi drivers are left sitting twiddling their thumbs,” said the 54-year-old, who has been living in Berlin since 1972 and has worked as a taxi driver for ten years.

Demonstrations also took part in London, Paris and Madrid.

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.

SEE ALSO: Taxi driver charged €400 for tourist's airport ride

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