Around 600 Uber drivers and drivers of other transport apps protested outside Casa Presidencial (Government House) on Tuesday, demanding the government for a law that regulates the ‘irregular’ transport.
The drivers also demand the fines levied against some of them be suspended while the government of Carlos Alvarado considers the legality of the service.
Elena Chinchilla, spokeswoman for the “Comisión 14 de agosto” stressed that it is a peaceful demonstration, to call a halt to the police operations against Uber drivers.
The drivers began their protest at 8:00 am from the Zapote Fair Grounds, moving to Casa Presidencial where they remained all day.
By then of the day (5:00 pm), no one from the government – nor President Alvarado, or his Chief of Staff, Rodolfo Piza, who had his hands full with the fishermen’s protest in Puntarenas, nor the minister of Transport, Rodolfo Méndez, had come out to attend their demands, generating ire among some of the drivers.
In the last several months, bowing to pressure from the formal (red) taxi drivers, the Policia de Transito (traffic police), under the authority of the Ministry of Transport (MOPT), has been targeting Uber drivers.
Their action has included fining drivers and even confiscating vehicles, while the government had asked for time to analyze the situation.
“It can not be possible that on the one hand, they say that they have to look for solutions, and on the other, they should continue with the operatives,” said Walter Oses, speaking for the Comisión 14 de agosto.
Andrés Echandi, general manager for Uber in Central America, made it clear that the ride app company did not organize or agree on the holding of demonstrations or road blockades.
“We believe that all people have the right to demonstrate peacefully, however the Uber company does not organize or encourage the holding of demonstrations or roadblocks,” Echandi said in a press release.
Uber arrived in Costa Rica 3 years ago, unleashing a confrontation with the formal taxi drivers who have and continue to demand the government shut down Uber and others.
Since its arrival in 2015, the service has grown from 7,000 drivers at the end of the first of operation to 22,000 today. In addition, the company says it has some 738,000 users in Costa Rica and the highest per capita Latin America.