Taxi and ridesharing drivers step up protests

Cab owners march to Parliament as two of Barcelona's key roads are blockaded

Taxi drivers marching to the Catalan parliament on January 21, 2019 (by Aina Martí)
Taxi drivers marching to the Catalan parliament on January 21, 2019 (by Aina Martí) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 21, 2019 11:15 AM

Taxi and ridesharing drivers stepped up their protests on Monday morning, as their talks with the Catalan government continue at a standstill.

Cab owners continued blockading Barcelona's Gran Via road with their vehicles for a fourth day in a row, and on Monday morning, they marched first to Catalonia's economy department, and then on to the Parliament.

Outside the entrance of the Ciutadella park, where the parliament is, there was some tension between taxi drivers and Catalan police officers. 

Then the taxis headed to the city's port, and on their way they blockaded a part of Ronda Litoral ring road at Barceloneta.

Four police officers injured

In the port, they broke the Spanish Guardia Civil police cordon and clashed with some officers.

At least six people were injured as a result of the clashes with both Catalan and Spanish police, four of which officers. 

Ridesharing drivers blockade Diagonal Avenue

Meanwhile, ridesharing drivers also stepped up their actions, blocking four lanes of the Diagonal avenue, also in the Catalan capital.

The Gran Via and Diagonal avenues are two of Barcelona's most important roads, and are both main routes in and out of the city.

Thus, both protests resulted in long traffic jams at peak hour.

At the Barcelona-El Prat airport, some tourists unable to find a taxi queued to get Uber or Cabify vehicles, while others went for the underground or the train.

Catalan government officials were due to meet with representatives of ridesharing companiesamong others on Monday, and on Tuesday the talks with the taxi sector will resume.

Negotiations in stalemate

On Saturday, the Catalan government offered to taxi drivers expanding the time in advance the services of companies like Uber have to be hired. Taxis ask for 6 hours, while the authorities were ready to go further than 15 minutes, their first offer, but without specifying a time.

Yet drivers rejected the new proposal and announced that their indefinite strike continued.

What the government did accept from taxi drivers' requests is obliging their rivals to return to the base once they finish every service, as well as prohibiting firms like Uber and Cabify to geolocate their clients.

For these reasons ridesharing companies' workers did not accept the deal either. Some of their representatives said on Friday that measures like this one will mean their "end" in Catalonia.