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Costa Rica Rules Out Suing Uber Drivers

Uber drivers will be the focus of the Policia de Transito.

Q COSTA RICA – The government announced Thursday night that it does not have the legal power to sue the Uber drivers, as demanded by the formal taxi drivers.

But, it did promise the taxi drivers to increase its operations to detect Uber drivers and apply sanctions for providing an illegal transport service in the country.

According to data provided by Uber, as of March, it had about 16,000 drivers working for the online drive service app in Costa Rica and some 500,000 customers (users).

“Transito (traffic police) operations will be intensified, in compliance with Articles 38 and 44 of the Ley de la Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos (Aresep, Law on the Public Services Regulatory Authority), to prosecute and punish those who offer illegal public transport services,” the government said in a statement.

Although Uber is the major player, the government was emphatic it will ensure strict compliance with the law by Uber or any other company that provides the same service. The compliance issues include labor rights, tax obligations and social security, said the government statement.

The government added that “it is concerned that the user is provided with a quality service”, so to that end it will establish a forum and execute actions aimed at improving the public taxi service.

Archive photo of formal taxi drivers protesting against Uber

The Foro Nacional de Taxistas (National Forum of Taxi Drivers) has repeatedly stated that they have suffered a drop in demand for their services following the arrival of Uber. They have requested the government shut down the company’s operation in the country, under the allegation that private transportation of persons is prohibited, according to pronouncements of the Attorney General of the Republic, the Constitutional Court and the Public Transport Council (CTP).

Gilberth Ureña, the representative of the union, said “they (the taxi drivers) can not be 100% satisfied because they wanted a suit from the government. But, on the other hand, they see it well that the declaration of illegality is maintained.”

The union leader added that the guideline that most satisfied the taxi drivers is the call for the Transitos (traffic officials) to intensify operations against Uber drivers.

In the struggle for clients, Uber drivers and formal taxi drivers have, in recent months, being involved in a series of clashes in different neighborhoods of the greater metropolitan area of San Jose (GAM), resulting in several damaged cars and injured people.

On August 21, it will be two years since Uber began operations in Costa Rica.