July 6, 2015 / 2:55 PM / 2 years ago

Uber says drivers intimidated in S.Africa after taxi protests

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Ride-hailing service Uber said on Monday its drivers had faced intimidation in South Africa following a protest last week by members of metered taxi associations who say the online app competes unfairly for business.

The logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone over a reserved lane for taxis in a street is seen in this photo illustration taken in Madrid on December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/Files

Drivers of metered taxis harassed Uber drivers at the Sandton Gautrain station and Sandton City mall in Johannesburg, Uber said in a statement on its website.

“We have been engaging with law enforcement and the Gautrain Station to assist with stopping this intimidation. In addition we have deployed security to these hotspots,” Uber said.

Taxi associations on Friday protested outside Uber’s Johannesburg offices saying the personalised car service was ruining the economy with cut prices and mistreatment of its drivers.

The protests are the latest challenge for Uber, which has suffered strong opposition in Europe.

Uber, whose backers include investment bank Goldman Sachs and technology giant Google, suspended its UberPOP ride-hailing service in France last week after it faced sometimes violent protests.

An Italian court in May banned unlicensed car-sharing services, two months after a German court issued a similar ban and imposed stiff fines for violations of local transport laws.

Born out of the frustration of two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs trying to catch a cab in Paris, Uber’s services have mushroomed since being launched in 2010 and are offered in nearly 270 cities worldwide. It is valued in excess of $40 billion.

Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Keith Weir

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