Sabiha Gökçen Airport Transport and Operation Cooperative (Sawkoop) is gearing up to report on the issues of ride-hailing app service Uber and taxi plates to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Sawkoop will make a special presentation addressing several points, including the fact that the problems between taxi drivers and passengers stem from high rent fees paid to plate owners as well as a proposing system with new plates leased to the drivers under the control of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and stricter monitoring of taxi drivers. They will also present data to President Erdoğan showing that Uber creates unfair competition.
Sawkoop Chairman Ahmet Çavuş underlined that plate rent is too high in Istanbul, saying problems cannot be resolved unless this is eliminated. Reminding that taxi drivers pay TL 400 ($100) per day to plate owners while trying to make ends meet with the rest of their revenue, Çavuş said, "This is why they avoid accepting passengers for short distances." Stressing that new taxi plates are needed to overcome this problem, Çavuş said: "If these plates are also sold in a tender procedure, a new rental method will be formed leading to a deadlock in terms of solving the problems. The plates should be owned by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, which would collect monthly rent from the drivers. Certain criteria should also apply to vehicles and drivers who will use such plates."
Highlighting that Uber is currently conducting an illegal business in Turkey, Çavuş said Uber is not competing on equal terms. Pointing out that there is a lack of training and supervision in the sector, Çavuş stated that they present it as cooperative, and in case of any misdeeds, they dismiss taxi drivers.Saying that taxis should be monitored with cameras and that a call center should be established where consumers can report problems, Çavuş noted: "In line with complaints, the driver's certificate could be canceled if necessary. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality should do this. The ex-mayor of the municipality did not take our requests for regulations seriously, but we think the new mayor will be more helpful."Stressing that taxi driving should be turned into a profession, Çavuş said: "Those who cannot get a job become taxi drivers. A total of 25 percent of the 50,000 taxi drivers in Istanbul have been convicted of crimes, such as extortion, murder and harassment. Since we operate in the airport, we check the criminal records of potential drivers and do not hire them, but they can work at other taxi stands."
According to Çavuş, the state has lost TL 198 million in revenues because of the existing 5,000 Uber vehicles. Indicating that an UBER vehicle has an average daily turnover of TL 800, Çavuş said 5,000 Uber vehicles have a total turnover of TL 1.44 billion on an annual basis and the 18 percent value-added tax corresponds to TL 259.2 million. So, the state has a total loss of TL 457 million in both categories.
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