Uber drivers seek AKP mayoral candidate’s help after company shuts down XL services in Turkey

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Uber drivers have asked for help from ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) İstanbul mayoral candidate Binali Yıldırım after the US-based company decided to shut down some of its operations in Turkey, the Demirören news agency reported on Tuesday.

Ride-hailing service Uber decided to suspend its UberXL large van services in İstanbul from Friday, it said, though passengers in Turkey’s largest city will still be able to call smaller yellow taxis through its app, Reuters reported.

The company, which reported a $1 billion loss on Thursday after spending heavily in the run-up to its initial public offering earlier this month, did not give a reason for the suspension but said it was committed to the Turkish market.

Tensions have risen in İstanbul, home to 15 million people, since Uber entered the Turkish market in 2014. Some Uber drivers say they have been threatened, blocked in traffic and beaten by yellow cab drivers, an accusation the industry denies.

“Unfortunately, we have made the difficult decision to suspend our UberXL service in İstanbul effective May 31,” Uber said in the statement, which did not give a reason for the decision.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in June last year that Uber was “finished” in Turkey, following pressure from Istanbul taxi drivers who said it was providing an illegal service and called for it to be banned.

Although drivers said Uber decided to stop XL services due to heavy fines imposed by the traffic police, Yıldırım told them it was a company decision and it was made long before measures were taken against Uber drivers in Turkey.

Since the Uber drivers think the US company took the decision based on the Turkish government’s stance against them, they asked Yıldırım to ease the ruling party’s position so they can keep their jobs.

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