Australian taxi drivers bring traffic to standstill in protest of industry reforms


Victorian taxi drivers caused traffic chaos Monday on Melbourne’s roads for the second time in a month in protest of proposed industry reform.

Up to 100 taxi drivers blockaded two key Melbourne motorways by crawling into the city at 5 kilometers per hours, causing widespread congestion across the city.

The convoy started at the Melbourne Airport on its way to Parliament House, blocking lanes of the Tullamarine freeway and Citylink motorways.

Both the roads were bought to a standstill, with many tourists inbound from the Melbourne Airport stuck in traffic for hours.

The stunt, the second of its kind by taxi drivers in February, is to protest the Victorian Government’s decision to deregulate the taxi industry and legalize ridesharing services such as Uber.

Under the proposed reforms, the government intends to compensate taxi drivers to the tune of 76,000 U.S. dollars for their first license and 38,000 U.S. dollars each for second and third licenses, a proposal taxi drivers say could leave them bankrupt.

Driver Vasilios Spanos owns three licenses and said the current offer would financially ruin his family.

“It cost me altogether for the three licences more than 613,000 U.S. dollars. Now the Government offer to me 76,000 U.S. dollars for my first licence, (38,000 U.S. dollars) for my second and (38,000 U.S. dollars) for my third,” Spanos told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Popular ridesharing service Uber has also voiced its concern over the proposal, saying a 1.5-U.S. dollar levy for every trip that will be used to fund the taxi license buyback is unfair.

Many Uber drivers in Melbourne were not driving on Monday in protest of the proposed levy, saying they were already paid significantly less than their colleagues in Sydney. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/

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