Taxi drivers in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, are expressing concerns about the potential influx of Indian drivers, fearing they could soon be replaced. The National Association for the Protection of Transporters and Taxi Drivers (NAPTTD) strongly opposes the municipality’s proposal to increase the current quota of taxi cars from 2,000 to 2,200.

Volodya Domashenko, co-chairman of the association, voiced apprehensions in the “Sega” newspaper, suggesting that the quota expansion is a precursor to importing taxi drivers from India. Currently, although the quota allows for 2,000 taxis, only 1,715 are actively in service. Mayor Kostadin Dimitrov’s initiative to raise the quota is viewed sceptically by local taxi drivers, who argue it’s presented under the guise of improving the service quality.

Mayor Dimitrov’s proposal, which includes setting minimum and maximum taxi fares, was open for public feedback from May 17 to June 17. He justified the need for more taxis due to Plovdiv’s growing population, asserting that the current number is insufficient to meet citizen demand.

Meanwhile, “Avtotrans,” a company managing public transport in Plovdiv, has announced plans to hire 30 bus drivers from India to bolster its workforce. According to manager Dimitar Cholakov, the recruitment process has concluded, with candidates undergoing rigorous selection criteria, including English proficiency. The new recruits will undergo comprehensive training before starting their duties, ensuring they are familiar with routes, vehicles, and urban working conditions.

Unlike their taxi counterparts, city bus drivers in Plovdiv are not anxious about the influx of Indian drivers. In fact, they anticipate a reduction in workload, potentially allowing for more relaxed summer vacations. The Indian recruits will receive equal pay to Bulgarian drivers and will be provided with accommodation during their employment.

JS International, in collaboration with Bulgarian recruitment agencies, has been actively promoting the employment of Indian workers across various sectors in Bulgaria. Their outreach efforts have included meetings with local businesses, showcasing the benefits of importing Indian labor. Similar initiatives in Austria and Romania have seen Indian workers taking up roles as taxi drivers and delivery personnel, indicating a broader trend in European labor markets.

The debate over the employment of Indian taxi drivers in Plovdiv reflects broader concerns among local taxi associations about job security and competition in the city’s transportation sector.