Uber ‘is over’ in Istanbul, Erdoğan says
The mobile transport application Uber will no longer be in use in Turkey’s metropolis, Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, weighing in a months-long heated dispute between the yellow taxi and Uber drivers.
“Something called Uber or Muber has arisen, that business is over now. There is no such thing anymore ... We already have a taxi system. Where has that arisen out of? It exists in Europe, I do not care,” he said at an iftar (fast breaking) dinner organized by the private public bus association in Istanbul on June 1.
“The governor has all the authority on this issue. Our Interior Minister has given the order ... The traffic police will have a crackdown on them, they will do what is necessary. We will not let the taxi drivers to be exploited,” he added.
On May 25, the government changed the Road Transport Law to increase the fines applied to contract-based transport certificate holders who illegally serve as taxis.
According to the new rules, a certificate holder company caught carrying passengers illegally will be fined 3,006 liras. If the offense reoccurs then the certificates related to all of the company vehicles will be revoked and the company will be put on a blacklist for two years, making it unable to apply for a certificate.
Istanbul Taxicab Merchants Chamber (İTEO) head Eyüp Aksu, whose photographs with Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım appear on the chamber’s website, said on May 29 that the new regulation “finishes Uber.”
However, a representative of the up to 15,000 Uber drivers vowed on May 31 that they will not give up.
“A total of 150-200 vehicles are registering with Uber on average every day,” said Ersin Kula, the chair of the Transportation and Tourism Services Association, which Uber drivers are members of.
“We want to work with all local stakeholders to improve urban mobility in Turkish cities and are fully committed to being a true partner to Turkey for the long term,” Uber stated on May 30.
More than 6,200 Uber drivers have been fined a total of 18.9 million liras so far this year, while 3,613 transport certificates have been revoked, according to traffic control data compiled by daily Hürriyet. Uber passengers have also been fined a total of 2.1 million liras.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Coordination Center (UKOME) of the Metropolitan Municipality has decided to tighten the measures against illegal passenger transportation.
“It has been detected that illegal transportation is being carried out via mobile applications by using the D2 certificates issued by the Transport Ministry and the Tourism Passenger Transport Certificate issued by the municipality,” the UKOME said on May 31.
The police and the gendarmerie will tighten inspections and in the event of an offense the Tourism Passenger Transport Certificate and the Public Transport Certificate of the offender will be suspended for six months. If the offense reoccurs then certificates will be revoked, the offender will be restricted from applying for certificates for two years, and the vehicle will be blacklisted, the statement added.
Ahead of the UKOME statement, Istanbul Mayor Mevlüt Uysal voiced support for the government’s new regulation to restrict ridesharing practices.
“Individuals and firms that have got tourism certificates can only transport their tourist customers between certain points, or they can show their customers around Istanbul. We will not permit the misuse of documents that we have issued,” Uysal said.
“We advise taxi drivers to renew themselves on a system that would be a complete substitute to Uber,” he added, promising to support regular yellow taxi drivers if they subscribe to a mobile application developed by the municipality, called “iTaksi.”
The average price of a taxicab license plate in Istanbul has increased 6.6 percent to 1.6 million liras between May 29 and June 1, amid expectations for a clampdown on Uber.