A rickshaw driver has defended his decision to charge £206 for a one-mile journey through central London because he was pedalling “uphill”.
The driver’s comments come after he was accused of “exploiting” foreign tourists by charging them the extortionate fee for a 1,400 yard journey from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch which would have cost less than £10 in a black cab.
Juris Dzjabovic, 22, from Moscow told the Daily Mail: “I charged £206 because there were four people and I was going uphill. I didn’t even charge them the full amount – it should have been £412.”
“Sure, £10 a minute is expensive, but that’s only if I go uphill. For downhill, it’s £10 for ten minutes.”
Dzjabovic, who describes himself as a promising opera singer in Russia, says he began working as a rickshaw driver for Glow Taxis after arriving in the UK just over a week ago
Custom Ride, the company which manufactures Glow Taxis, told the Evening Standard that the Russian pedicab driver did not work for them.
The incident came to light when a black cab driver, Richard Long, 49, filmed an altercation over the expensive fee between the driver, two policeman and passers-by.
One of the police officers accused Dzjabovic of “blatantly ripping off” and “exploiting” the tourists, who appear to speak limited English.
A Westminster Council spokesman told the Independent: “We are truly shocked at the audacity shown in this video. We have long argued for greater regulation and licensing on rickshaws, to reduce congestion and improve safety.”
The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association said that there had been reports in the past of rickshaw passengers feeling “ripped off”.
Since the incident there have been calls for greater regulation of the city's rickshaw trade, including from London Mayor, Boris Johnson.
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