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Private Driver Protest Clogs San José Roads

September 8, 2006

An estimated 1,000 porteadores, as private transportation providers are called here, descended on the capital Tuesday causing vehicular disarray that clogged up traffic for hours.

The drivers were protesting a proposed bill that would eliminate what government officials call a loophole in the law allowing private drivers to operate under the title of porteadores. Regular, licensed red taxi drivers have been pushing for years to have them outlawed.

Oscar Rodríguez, father of nine children, said he has made a living as a porteador for years.

“We want to show MOPT (the Ministry of Public Works and Transport) that we aren’t alone, and that we are doing this peacefully,” Rodríguez said as he waved a Costa Rican flag Tuesday outside the Legislative Assembly where he and other private transportation drivers parked their cars in the street in protest.

MOPT spokesman Omar Segura said the ministry maintains its position in favor of the licensed taxi drivers, and plans to push the bill, which is being discussed in the Legal Issues Commission in the Legislative Assembly.

The current law permits porteadores to transport goods and people from door to door under a contract established between driver and customer. The bill amending the law would eliminate the word “people,” making it illegal for drivers to transport people without being licensed as public taxi drivers.

“They aren’t completing their requisites,” Segura said. “Other taxi drivers have two vehicle inspections per year, pay concession taxes, and are registered. (With porteadores), there is no guarantee of security for the consumer. If something happens, we have no way of sanctioning them because they aren’t in the registry.”

 

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