Taxi drivers in around 30 German cities were protesting government plans to relax market regulations that would force them to compete with ride-hailing services like Uber.

The German Taxi and Rental Car Association (BZP) called on drivers to demonstrate throughout the country on Wednesday, with the biggest event planned for Berlin.

Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer tweeted that he would attend the rally in the capital, where a procession of several thousand taxis are to drive slowly towards the Brandenburg Gate. Rallies are also planned in Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Wiesbaden, Stuttgart and Dresden.

Germany has some 250,000 taxi drivers, according to a BZP spokesman. Several thousand are expected to take part in the Berlin rally, he added.

The Transport Ministry plans to lift the hefty restrictions currently imposed on mobility services like Uber from 2020, opening up the market. BZP claims the reforms would leave many regular taxi drivers fighting for their existence.

Uber currently operates in Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt, but unlike in other countries, its drivers must hold a special professional license and are not allowed to “pool” rides. Pooling allows drivers to pick up multiple passengers with similar start and end points.

Source: dpa