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Commuters face more travel disruption as taxi strike continues

Paris taxi drivers protesting yesterday
Paris taxi drivers protesting yesterday Reuters

As protests by striking French taxi drivers ran into a second day on Wednesday, app-based taxi firm Uber has been ordered to pay 1.2 million euros to a French taxi group by a Paris court.

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This after taxi drivers blocked roads and access to airports and train stations on Tuesday leading to clashes with police, arrests and transport chaos.

The payment to the National Union of Taxis followed a complaint that Uber drivers were acting as traditional taxis -- waiting in the street in the hopes of picking up passengers.

The ruling comes a day after large-scale protests by taxi drivers angry over the impact of Uber, which may have taken up to a third of their business.

Many of the taxi drivers spent the night in their cars at Porte Maillot, a key access road to Paris.

On Tuesday, the strikers set up a massive barricade there blocking traffic and leading to clashes with police.

"We are determined. We will not move," Ibrahima Sylla, one of the striking taxi drivers, early Wednesday morning.

Police warned motorists to avoid the area and traffic remained blocked as of 6am local time Wednesday.

Traffic was also disrupted in the Bercy area in the east of the city, which is another key access route for people living in the capital’s suburbs.

The drivers are protesting at what they see as unfair competition from private hire cabs such as Uber, and the government’s inability to enforce laws designed to protect their industry.

Taxi drivers were joined by colleagues from as far away as Spain, Belgium and the UK who had travelled to France in a show of solidarity.

London black cab driver Kamel Abdellaoi, who travelled from the UK, told RFI’s sister channel FRANCE 24, that fed-up taxi drivers had “nothing to lose” and that the protests would only intensify.

 

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