Greek govt unveils controversial draft bill that would essentially outlaw taxi-seeking mobile apps

Friday, 29 September 2017 19:10
UPD:19:12
REUTERS/ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS

Thousands of Greek commuters, especially in the greater Athens area, have increasingly come to rely on such apps, especially a homegrown application - Taxibeat - that was recently bought out by Daimler and is now simply called Beat.

A Greek transport ministry draft bill long expected to tackle the "Uber" threat apparently aims to quash all apps bringing together customer and professional driver without the need of a middleman.

The draft bill provides that companies managing mobile apps must sign three-year contracts with taxi owners, essentially negating one of the biggest features of such platforms and applications, namely, the ability of a customer to grade drivers and the service they are supplied.

Thousands of Greek commuters, especially in the greater Athens area, have increasingly come to rely on such apps, especially a homegrown application - Taxibeat - that was recently bought out by Daimler and is now simply called Beat.

The development is expected to generate yet another firestorm of criticism against the leftist-rightist coalition government, namely, that it is caving in to vested interests - in this case the powerful union of taxi cab owners.

The Greek-designed application, as opposed to the controversial Uber, relies only on professional taxi owners and registered drivers. Another draft provision would forbid owners of private vehicles from legally contracting with tourism agencies and rent-a-car firms to provide transportation.

In defending the draft bill, the relevant minister, Christos Spirtzis, claimed previous governments created "grey zones" in the legal framework that allowed "some companies to conduct business in an illegal manner ... We don't want to forbid internet platforms in relation to the operation of taxis ... we trying to set rules that won't allow other rules for professional drivers and other rules for activities such as transports hired via the internet or through a telephone call center."

The head of the nationwide cab owners union, nevertheless, was much more illustrative over his vocal opposition to such 21st century electronic hiring platforms.

In comments made during a presentation of the app-restrictive draft legislation by Spritzis to Greek Prime Minister.

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