Violence against Uber drivers

Taxi drivers assault them, authorities do not want to talk and application managers refuse to regularize the service

By Edgar Santillana and Roberto Rocha

Last Wednesday, San Luis Potosí saw a new episode of violence between taxi drivers, Uber drivers and police. But, on this occasion there was also another factor: the little political will to solve the situation.

Around two o’clock in the afternoon, in the area of ​​Distribuido Juárez, the quarrel took place. Taxi drivers used stones to assault the drivers of Uber. At least six vehicles of the application were damaged.

One of the drivers resulted with head injuries that required suturing for three different wounds.

There were at least three confrontations, the main one in the Distributor and another one a few meters away, behind the Banamex of the Juárez roundabout.

Uber drivers also reported that taxi drivers stole cell phones from some of the drivers present in the brawl and that they went to check the WhatsApp groups in which the “partners” of the application are coordinated.

At least four roads of that sector of the city were closed, after the confrontation.

The Municipal Police reported the closure of the road connecting the Juarez Distributor with the road to Matehuala, as well as the return of the Juarez Distributor on the side of the same road, in front of Centro Mueblero.

The corporation also closed Avenida de los Conventos and highway to Rioverde, as well as the side of Salvador Nava and Avenida Industrias.

As a protest measure, the Uber drivers moved to the toll collection booth of the highway bypass to Rioverde, where they requested cooperation for the repair of damaged vehicles.

In WhatsApp groups drivers were asked to not continue working for the company for one day, so that the platform could not earn money, until they meet the requirements imposed by the Public Transportation Law of the state, approved by the State Congress since December 2016.

Among other things, the Law requires Uber a list of drivers who use the app in the city of San Luis Potosí, as well as eliminating the option of cash payment of the platform.

More than a year after the amendment of the Public Transport Law, the Uber company has not even approached the Ministry of Communications and Transportation (SCT) to offer a solution to the conflict.

At 6:45 pm, the drivers participating in the confrontation reported that they would move to the Government House, to seek dialogue with the governor Juan Manuel Carreras.

A driver from Uber reported: “We are tired of being hurt and vandalised by vehicles. The only thing we ask is that the attacks to stop, we do not have any problem with them. And that the company approaches Communications and Transports so that it forces it to be regularized. Unfortunately we are being affected in our heritage by the loss of vehicles when they are confiscated, in addition to broken glass and vandalism”.

“The only thing we are looking for is to work and that they let us work, because we are fulfilling the company, the guidelines that they ask of us. Now we want the company to comply with what Communications and Transport requests”, continued the driver of the platform.

One hour before the drivers arrived at the place, the Ministry of Public Security of the State (SSPE) mounted a police operation in the area of ​​Lomas 4th section, to protect the Government House.
“The whole block is surrounded, we will not allow the entry of any (citizen), unless it resides in the area, we will identify them (those who reside in the place)”, said one of the state elements.

All the arteries through which any Uber driver could reach the Government House were blocked, each with at least two patrols of the State Metropolitan Force (FME) and five elements, although in most of them a greater number could be observed.

On the outskirts of the Government House, a special police device was installed, where around 70 elements were placed with special weapons, shields and helmets.

This situation contrasts with the operational lax mounted when taxi drivers protested in some areas of the city, especially in the downtown area.

Upon the arrival of the Uber block as a whole, passing through Sierra Leone, the FME elements blocked them on board patrols almost upon reaching the roundabout of the peripheral ring, and in the same way other official vehicles blocked them by the rear, cornering them in the middle of the road.

Some of the Uber partners who were leading the demonstration, offered details of the situation, in which they stated that they were not intending to attack, they only wanted that some government official would attend them, however, they were ambushed by the police officers.

Some government officials and the SCT came to the site to talk with the demonstrators, however, they were workers subdivisions that did not have clear information and that, as they declared themselves, were not empowered to respond to many of the questions asked by Uber drivers.

The Secretary of Communications and Transport, Juan Ramiro Robledo, stood out for his absence and lack of pronouncement. The same as the governor Juan Manuel Carreras López.
Finally, the demonstrators and officials reached an agreement to establish a working table in the SCT with a group of seven Uber workers and some government officials and the transport regulator itself.

To an express question of La Orquesta for the official sent by the SCT, on whether Juan Ramiro Robledo will attend said meetings, the official indicated that no, “but they will try so he can attend”.
After finishing the negotiations during the demonstration, the group of cars left the place, once the State Police opened the way for them. However, the authorities evaded responding if the mounted operative would cease or continue throughout the night.

Last Friday, the president of the Communications and Transportation Commission of the State Congress, Sergio Desfassiaux Cabello, asked the governor Juan Manuel Carreras and the secretary of Communications and Transport, Ramiro Robledo López, to stop the operations against Uber drivers to avoid clashes between taxi drivers and drivers of the application.

“Publicly I demand that the potosinos stop attacking themselves,” said the deputy, in the middle of a meeting with Uber operators, after the plenary session of the State Congress.

The legislator also said that he spoke with Robledo Lopez to ask that the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) no longer do more operations against the drivers, but also requested the presence of uber in San Luis to get in order. But, on wednesday the SCT confirmed that these works will continue.

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