Angry Uber drivers blocked major thoroughfares in central Brussels Friday hours before the ride-hailing app is due to stop services in the Belgian capital.
As of 6 p.m. this evening, some 2,000 private drivers with licenses in Brussels will no longer be able to pick up customers following a ruling of the Brussels Court of Appeal, Uber announced on Wednesday.
The Brussels government agreed Thursday on a proposal to reform the region’s taxi and private car industry, but the text still has to clear a series of hurdles. The government said it would “actively look for a temporary solution” and is mulling an emergency measure the fill the legal void, according to local media.
Drivers say the government has been dragging its feet on the reform. “And now, we’re in danger,” said Abdel Chakri, an Uber driver who joined protests on Rue de la Loi, a main artery cutting through Brussels’ EU district.
Self-employed Uber drivers, who purchased cars and face mortgage payments and costs related to their business, are panicked at the prospect of losing their source of revenue, he said: “Today we have a job, tomorrow we won’t have one … They have to find a solution today.”
Drivers will continue to protest until that happens, he added. “Tomorrow again, until we have a taxi plan — it’s that simple.”
Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort blamed Uber for allowing the sector to develop despite the legal risk, saying he was “deeply touched” by drivers’ distress.