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Italy’s taxi drivers keep protesting, fear new competition

ROME (AP) – Hundreds of taxi drivers in Italy on Wednesday left their cars idle for a second day to protest the Italian government’s plans to allow more competition, including from share-ride services.

On Tuesday, a handful of drivers chained themselves together in protest in the square outside Premier Mario Draghi’s office, and they were still chained there on Wednesday as the wildcat work stoppage continued.

Nearby, in a main street and not far from Rome’s central square, Piazza Venezia, hundreds of drivers from Rome and Naples stood shoulder to shoulder and protested noisily. A few protesters set off coloured smoke flares to draw attention. Their cars were parked elsewhere in the Italian capital.

Drivers vowed to keep up the protests at least one more day as they press their grievances.

In the northern city of Turin, more than 200 drivers parked their taxis in a main square in a similar protest, the Italian news agency ANSA said.

In Milan, Italy’s financial capital, taxi drivers planned an assembly later on Wednesday to decide their protest strategy.

The drivers oppose the prospect of Italy’s liberalising taxi services to include ride-sharing operators like Uber. Yet Italy faces European Union (EU) insistence to allow more competition in transport as well as in other sectors.

Draghi is determined to push forward reforms to open up Italy’s economy as part of efforts to receive billions of euros in EU pandemic recovery funds.

Hundreds of taxi drivers protest in front of Chigi Palace government offices in Rome. PHOTO: AP