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Taxi drivers confront officials in southeastern China over unlicensed competitors

Posted by Author on January 13, 2010

Radio Free Asia, Jan. 12, 2010-

HONG KONG— Hundreds of taxi drivers in southeastern China have staged a strike in protest against government inaction on shutting down “black taxis” or unregistered cabs, according to strikers and local government officials.

One taxi driver, who declined to give his name, said that more than 800 protesters drove their taxis to the front of Yancheng City Hall in Jiangsu province Monday, demanding local authorities crack down on the illegal operators who were causing them to lose business.

“We can’t get customers now because they are being grabbed up by black cabs. The black cabs are driven by disabled people and their minimum charge is only five yuan (U.S. $0.70). That is too cheap,” the driver said.

“Driving a taxi is a profitable business, but it is hard to get an operator’s license from the government. Those disabled people want to make money [anyway].”

Another driver surnamed Chen said that not only do unregistered taxi drivers lack licenses, but many lack drivers’ licenses too.

“Nonetheless, they dare to openly operate on the roads,” Chen said.

“We’ve reported this problem many times, but the relevant management turned a deaf ear to our complaints. Even the city government doesn’t want to tackle the problem and has neglected their duties for almost two months since we brought it up,” he said.

According to the taxi drivers, black cabs are often privately owned cars that have been remodeled to appear as normal taxis.

They complained that the drivers of unregistered cabs often lack insurance, leaving passengers with little recourse for compensation in the event of an accident.

Strike leads to scuffle

Authorities in Yancheng dispatched a number of police officers on Monday, including special police, to deal with the cab drivers at city hall. The two sides scuffled, but no one was injured during the confrontation.

“The police wanted to take away several demonstrators, but we stopped them,” said another driver who asked not to be named…….(more details from Radio Free Asia)

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