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Sao Paulo city council votes to ban Uber

The Sao Paulo city council overwhelmingly supported prohibiting the use of smartphone-based ride-hailing-applications like Uber in Brazil's largest city.

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    Taxi drivers block a street to protest the Uber ride-sharing service outside city council headquarters in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, before a second vote by the city council that would ban Uber. The Sao Paulo city council voted 43-3 on Wednesday to prohibit the use of smartphone-based ride-hailing-applications like Uber.
    Andre Penner/AP
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The Sao Paulo city council voted 43-3 on Wednesday to prohibit the use of smartphone-based ride-hailing-applications like Uber in Brazil's largest city.

During the entire day, thousands of taxi drivers blocked several of the city's streets and avenues to protest against Uber and pressure councilmen to vote in favor of the law that bans the service in this city of 12 million.

The council has 10 days to send the approved law to City Hall. Mayor Fernando Haddad will then have two weeks to approve or veto the bill.

In its first vote on June 30, the council voted 48-1 to prohibit the use of ride-hailing services such as Uber.

Rio de Janeiro's city council has banned Uber, but Mayor Eduardo Paes must still ratify it.

Uber has been banned in Brasilia and Belo Horizonte, the only other two cities where the service is present.

If the measure goes into effect, Sao Paulo Uber drivers who ignore the ban can be fined 1,700 reals ($447) and have their cars confiscated.

The service has drawn increasing use since last year's World Cup of soccer, with many of its cars cleaner and newer than those of regular cabs.

Cab drivers complain Uber is unfair competition because its drivers don't have to pay city fees or undergo official inspections.

To prevent the expansion of Uber elsewhere in the country, city councils in at least another 13 state capitals have laws pending approval to ban the service.

In Maceio, capital of the northeastern state of Alagoas, city councilman Galba Netto recently told reporters: "We are trying to prevent a future problem, because the arrival of Uber in our city would be a disaster."

On its Facebook page, Uber said people "who cross the city every day have the right to choose how they will travel the streets of Sao Paulo."

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