The head of a taxi drivers union in Istanbul said they have helped crackdown on the popular ridesharing platform Uber that operates illegally in Turkey with both drivers and passengers using Uber being fined. Istanbul Chamber of Taxi Drivers Chairman Yahya Uğur said in a written statement that 1,961 Uber drivers were fined TL 2,628 ($740) each and 1,980 Uber customers were fined TL 292 this year alone. He said they cooperated with the Finance Ministry and police to locate Uber drivers.
"This is an illegal system and the company avoids paying fines. It is only the drivers and customers who pay the fines and Uber only offers legal counsel to drivers," he said. Fines double if the drivers are caught transporting passengers illegally via Uber. The ride-sharing service, which has faced protests by taxi drivers since its start eight years ago, has incited the wrath of Turkish taxi operators after its foray into the Turkish market in 2014. Drivers say the U.S.-based company damages the industry and is apparently illegal but continues its operations thanks to legal loopholes.
Turkish taxi drivers say the company takes advantage of the lack of inspections and legal loopholes to freely operate in the country where its services are confined to Istanbul currently. Taxi drivers, especially those working in big cities like Istanbul, have long complained of "pirate taxis" that lack official permits required for drivers and the police have considerably decreased the number of these taxis after frequent crackdowns ending up with fines given to drivers. Still, Uber enjoys virtual immunity due to a lack of laws banning its online services in its entirety.