TAXI drivers plan to paralyse Paris during a go-slow as they protest against what they regard as ‘unfair competition’ from minicab drivers.
A convoy of taxis left Roissy and Orly airports at 7am today, and have been driving slowly along the city’s A1 and A6 arteries, bringing traffic to a near standstill, as they head to a demonstration at Place Joffre, opposite the Champs de Mars.
Traffic jams have been reported between Porte Dauphine and Porte Maillot, and the convoy is causing tailbacks between Porte de Clichy and Porte de Vincennes.
Live traffic-flow monitoring website Sytadin said that the go-slow would affect Paris’s entire network - in particular the A1 and the beltway, A3, A6, A6B, A6A, and A106.
Unions said they were expecting today’s protest to be larger than a similar go-slow in January. Then, protesters said between 1,000 and 3,000 cars took part. Police estimated the number at closer to 600.
One protester, Daniel Bonamy, said: “We will have twice as many this time."
He added: “Competition must exist, but we are not on an equal footing.”
Taxi drivers have said minicab companies, which can only carry passengers who have pre-booked their journeys, are flouting the rules and ‘encroaching on our turf’ by touting for trade ‘on the fly’.
Minicab firms, however, have rejected taxi drivers’ claims that they are poaching clients.
Yan Hascoet, founder of Driver-Private, said: “It is ridiculous. It would make no economic sense: when drivers take clients without a reservation, they do not go through our mobile application, and we do not receive a commission.”
In a bid to ease tensions, the government has announced what it is calling a ‘mission dialogue’ between taxis and minicab companies and ‘tighter controls’ on compliance with current rules.
Taxi drivers are also protesting against the arrival of a car-pooling service, American Uber, in which individuals are paid to transport passengers on short trips.
Last month’s protest was marred by violence, when demonstrators attacked an Uber vehicle. Rocks and paint were thrown at the vehicle, before assailants smashed a passenger window and slashed one of its tyres.
Up to 5,000 taxi drivers across several cities in France took part in last month’s demonstration.