Madrid taxi drivers block city center as they step up anti-Uber protest (VIDEO)

Madrid taxi drivers block city center as they step up anti-Uber protest (VIDEO)
Hundreds striking cabbies brought traffic to standstill in the center of Spain’s capital as their standoff with authorities over ride-hailing services enters second week.

Protesters are demanding local authorities tighten regulations on ride-hailing apps like Uber or its Spanish rival Cabify. The taxi drivers accuse the private services of undercutting their prices and violating the law.

Riot police and tow trucks were sent to clear the street after the protests had paralyzed Madrid’s main avenue Paseo de la Castellana, close to the iconic Santiago Bernabeu soccer stadium, according to local media reports. Several scuffles broke out, but officials have not reported any major violence.

Four people were arrested as police made their way through the crowd while the protesters cried “We are taxi drivers, not terrorists!”

Meanwhile local officials said the drivers have the right to protest but urged the strikers not to “collapse” the city.

After the traffic jam on Paseo de la Castellana was cleared, pedestrian protests continued on other central streets of Madrid. Some people were wearing yellow vests that have become synonymous with the anti-government protests in France.

Madrid’s cab drivers are demanding stricter regulations for the private companies similar to ones proposed in Barcelona. Authorities of the second-largest Spanish city proposed that the ride-hailing services may be booked only some time in advance.

Uber and some other private companies threatened to leave Barcelona if the new rule comes into force.

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