Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, announced that he’s expelling Uber from Turkey, a result of pressure from Istanbul’s taxi industry. Istanbul taxi drivers, numbering more than 17,000, claimed Uber was providing an illegal service and that it needs to be banned.
Ever since Uber began its service in Turkey in 2014, it’s caused dissension among the country’s taxi drivers, not unlike what’s happening elsewhere.
In a speech on Friday, Erdogan said, “This thing called Uber emerged. That business is finished. That does not exist anymore. We have our taxi system…. Where does this come from? It is used in Europe, I do not care about that…. We will decide by ourselves…. No non-taxpayers can do business here…. It is our duty to remove this network, which works illegally in your field.”
Uber had no comment but had noted that 2,000 drivers use the service while another 5,000 work for UberXL, the service that uses vans and SUVs.
Istanbul’s taxi drivers have had a contentious relationship with Uber, taking them to court and accusing the company of hurting their business and operating illegally in the country.
Prime Minister Yıldırım said the taxi drivers should take responsibility for providing better services for users. He called on them to improve the conditions that led customers to prefer to use Uber.
Riders generally prefer Uber and its competitor Lyft to most taxi services because cars are available on demand within minutes, they’re less expensive, offer a range of vehicles including SUVs, and allow a cashless transaction.