Taxi chaos in Quito closes schools as mayor threatens to punish protesting drivers

Nov 30, 2018

Public schools were ordered closed Friday in Quito due to the threat of protests by taxi drivers. On Thursday, taxi drivers brought traffic in much of the city to a standstill despite a warning from Mayor Mauricio Rodas that participating drivers will have their commercial permits revoked.

Taxi drivers blocked major Quito thoroughfares on Thursday.

Late Tuesday, the taxi guild announced it was calling off Friday’s protest but city officials said they would not reverse the school suspension order or another one waiving the city’s odd-even license plate rule (pico y placa) for vehicle access to the central business district. “Those decisions were made based on today’s (Thursday’s) protests,” Rodas said. “Besides, the taxi drivers have given us no reason to take them at their word.”

Ecuador Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo backed up Rodas’ threat to suspend permits for taxi drivers involved in traffic disruptions. “We will use all legal means available to punish those who disrupt normal traffic flow in the city,” she said. “Their selfish actions cause major discomfort for citizens of the city and we are alerting the national police to make arrests if necessary.”

The taxi guild is making several demands on Quito city government including one that it drop a plan to issue thousands of new taxi permits and that it eliminate a backlog for issuing operating permits to drivers already approved.

In addition, the guild is insisting that the city formally outlaw internet-based taxi companies, such as Uber, Cabify and InDriver from operating in the city and step up enforcement of rules against informal taxis.

During Thursday’s traffic disruptions, police estimated that as many as 2,200 out of Quito’s 16,000 taxi participated.

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