Uber driver allegedly attacks Brussels Mobility Controller at Midi Station

Uber driver allegedly attacks Brussels Mobility Controller at Midi Station
Credit: Lauren Walker/ The Brussels Times

An inspector with the Brussels Mobility regional administration was threatened and then attacked by several people on Tuesday during an inspection at the Brussels Midi station.

The inspector had asked to check the papers of a passenger transport vehicle in the vicinity of the station, Bruzz reports.

Brussels MP Jamal Ikazban (PS) said it was an LCV vehicle, meaning one being driven under the controversial limousine legislation under which ride-hailing platforms like Uber or Bolt operate in order to bypass the stricter regulations for official taxi drivers.

Brussels Mobility spokesperson Inge Paemen said the driver did not have a Brussels licence, which has been a particular point of contention in the ongoing Uber versus Brussels dispute.

“During the check, the driver in question called up some acquaintances who were present in the neighbourhood. They started to threaten the inspector and eventually attacked him. The man received a kick in the back, after he had just undergone surgery on his back.”

Controller taken to hospital

The controller was taken to hospital for further examination and the driver of the vehicle allegedly left the scene with his car while the other people involved scattered. Local police soon arrived on the scene.

“Two controllers from Brussels Mobility have filed complaints,” said Camille Thiry from Brussels Mobility.

“We hope that the investigation and the analysis of the camera images will show who is responsible for this aggression. At Brussels Mobility, we feel very strongly about this. We are shocked by this kind of violent behaviour against people who are just doing their job.”

Brussels Minister President Rudi Vervoort also expressed support for the controller on Twitter, referring to the attack as an “unacceptable aggression.”

Translation: I express my full support for the Brussels Mobility Controller who was the victim of an unacceptable act of aggression in the course of his duties. A complaint has been filed and the case will be followed up. I condemn all forms of violence!

The driver who was checked disputes that he was in violation of Brussels' regulations for platform drivers, saying he had picked up a customer in Beersel and dropped him off at Brussels Midi Station. He said the controller threatened to impound his car because he then accepted a request for a ride in Brussels.

“But on the Uber platform you can't turn off orders when you're in Brussels,” the driver said.

“You have to cancel those and I had done that. There was no customer in the vicinity of my car. A check of my history makes it clear that I always comply with the rules, I pick up customers in the Flemish Region and drop them off either there or in Brussels.”

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The man said that when the inspector was unmoved, he took his documents and left with his car.

“I was afraid of the costs and loss of time that a seizure and a challenge would entail. The impoundment would have been unjustified, but I knew that once my car was impounded, I would lose my job for a long time.”

The man says he did not incite anyone to intervene against the inspector, but that the situation escalated on its own in part due to the involvement of another LVC driver.

"We deeply regret that an agent of Brussels Mobility got hurt. We strongly condemn all forms of violence," an Uber spokesperson told The Brussels Times. "We have reached out to the authorities to offer our support with the investigation into the matter."

Transport workers have faced a wave of violence in recent years. There are at least two attacks against STIB transport workers per day, according to information presented to the Brussels Parliament Mobility Committee in April.

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