Uber app downloads rise five-fold in Turkey amid tension with taxi drivers
Downloads of the Uber app in Turkey has risen fivefold in 10 days amid tensions between traditional taxicab drivers and Uber drivers, daily Habertürk reported on March 21.
In the 10 days up to March 21 some 24,500 users downloaded the application on their smartphones, according to the report.
The spike in downloads comes amid reports of angry protests by taxi drivers in Istanbul against Uber, as well as a number of physical attacks from taxi drivers targeting Uber drivers. On March 10, shots were fired at an Uber vehicle in the Küçükçekmece district, after which Uber released a statement about the rising number of violent incidents targeting Uber vehicles in Turkey.
Unlike in most other countries, Uber offers a more expensive service to customers. As a result, competition between traditional taxis and Uber in Turkey is largely based on quality rather than price, with many locals complaining of poor service provided by taxi drivers.
A lawsuit was recently opened against Uber by the United Taxi Drivers Association, with lawyers of the latter demanding that the authorities block access to the Uber application in Turkey. The court has adjourned the trial to June 4, saying it is waiting for the expert report regarding the issue to be completed.
A group of taxi drivers gathered early on March 12 outside Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse to protest against Uber ahead of the second hearing of a lawsuit opened against the transport company by the United Taxi Drivers Association (İTEO).
Carrying banners reading “Uber = Global Thief” and “We do not want global thief Uber,” protesters claimed that Uber has already been driven out of many European countries.
“Our case has entered the 10th Commercial Court of First Instance. We demand that Uber vehicles be taken out of service. These are labor thieves. Today is the second hearing. We are waiting for positive results,” İTEO president Eyüp Aksu said.
“We trust the Turkish Parliament, our president and our prime minister. We are waging a legal struggle against a global thief … In European countries taxi drivers burn things during their demonstrations [against Uber]. Here we do not want to conduct such a protest. But if justice hands down a different ruling [other than in favor of the taxi drivers], the patience of taxi drivers will have run out. Taxi drivers will do anything necessary for their bread [income]. Our bread [income] is as important as our honor,” Aksu added, also saying the “Jewish lobby” is behind Uber.