Business & Economy

Chilean cabbies protest fuel prices, competition from apps

Santiago, Jul 26 (EFE).- More than 200 taxi drivers rolled slowly down a main thoroughfare in this capital Tuesday to protest rising fuel prices and press the Chilean government for tighter regulation of ride-sharing apps.

The cabbies made their way to La Moneda, the presidential palace, with the intention of delivering a letter to President Gabriel Boric detailing their grievances and demands.

“Today we have a great problem that is called ‘draft platform law’ that is in Congress and which is made to measure for these platforms,” a protester who identified himself only as Manuel told a reporter from a Santiago television station.

The bill now before lawmakers would require Uber, Cabify and other ride-sharing outfits to register and provide lists of vehicles and drivers – who must have chauffer’s licenses – as well as proof of insurance.

Another driver taking part in the protest, Nelson Ponce, said that the lack of regulation of the apps is “a problem that has been coming for 10 years.”

Many cabbies who went into debt to buy their taxis find themselves struggling to make a living amid unfair competition from the likes of Uber, he said.

Chile has seen fuel prices rise for 48 consecutive weeks and the cost of a fill-up has increased by around 20 percent since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

The Andean nation is a net importer of petroleum and soon after taking office in March, the center-left Boric administration proposed adding $40 million to a fund that is used to cushion the domestic fuel market from global fluctuations.

Finance Minister Mario Marcel said Tuesday that the recent intervention by the central bank to shore up the Chilean peso against the dollar will curb the increase in fuel prices.

“So, as the dollar rose sharply at one point and that put more pressure on the price of fuels in the local market, now that pressure will be less,” Marcel said. EFE mmm/dr

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