Taxi protest against Uber snarls traffic across Costa Rica
UPDATE 1:20 p.m. Around noon, the leader of the National Taxi Drivers Forum, Gilberth Ureña, said the group ended the protest after reaching an agreement with the head of the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP), Roberto Jiménez.
Ureña said taxi industry leaders will meet again with Jiménez on Aug. 16 to hear ARESEP’s response to their petition to block the Uber app in Costa Rica.
Thousands of taxi drivers attempted to block highways and other major routes across Costa Rica Tuesday morning to demand the government crack down on ride-hailing service Uber.
Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata at around noon reported that police had arrested some 78 taxi drivers and seized 33 cars. Drivers will be charged for obstructing traffic and causing disorder on public roads.
Arrests occurred mainly east of the capital, in Curridabat and San Pedro, and also near the Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela province.
As of 10:30 a.m., traffic in front of the airport was flowing normally.
Some of those arrested will also face charges for assaulting police officers and resisting arrest, the Public Security Ministry reported.
National Police Director Juan José Andrade reported that a group of taxi drivers who resisted arrest in San Pedro caused injuries to three police officers. One of them had to be sent to a hospital after losing three teeth during a clash with protesters, he said.
Andrade estimated that the first hours of the protests would cost police some ₡80 million ($145,000) in resources and damage to police cars.
Other groups of taxi drivers clashed with police at the beginning of Florencio del Castillo Highway in Curridabat, where the Public Security Ministry had placed various squads of anti-riot officers.
A report from the Traffic Police at noon said officers fined 119 taxi drivers along various roads for obstructing passage. The report also stated that the main traffic problems were caused by groups of taxis driving at very low speeds and occupying all lanes of various major routes.
Traffic Police reports indicate that the biggest traffic jams at midmorning were along Route 1 between San José and Alajuela, Route 27 between San José and Puntarenas, on the Circunvalación, a belt route around central San José, along the Florencio del Castillo highway and Ochomogo in Cartago and on the Caldera road along the beach in Puntarenas.
President Luis Guillermo Solís is monitoring the situation with Minister Gustavo Mata and other government officials.
This is a developing story.
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