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Uber drivers protest outside Transportation Ministry

2017/02/26 20:30:39

Taipei, Feb. 26 (CNA) Hundreds of Taiwanese partner drivers of ride-hailing company Uber rallied outside the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) in Taipei on Sunday to call for a new law governing transportation network companies.

Some 300 drivers shouted slogans of "Sharing Economy, People Decide" and we "Have Management, Have a Platform" at the rally organized by the Taiwan Uber Drivers Alliance, a group of Uber partner drivers.

The drivers called for a separate law to govern transportation network companies as exists in some countries instead of regulating ride-hailing companies with laws covering taxis, said alliance member Adam Shen (沈柏耀).

According to Uber Taiwan (台灣宇博), more than 1,000 drivers partnered with the company before it suspended its services on Feb. 10 in response to statutory changes that stiffened fines for the illegal operation of transportation services in Taiwan last December.

On Feb. 16, the company said in a statement that it had reached a tentative agreement with the ministry on a proposal to partner with car rental businesses in Taiwan, but it would have to consult relevant government agencies on the specifics of implementing such a plan.

The protesting drivers also wanted the ministry to make sure that they can drive cars with license plates used by cars for hire, such as airport pick-up services, to provide ride-sourcing services (the outsourcing of rides) to passengers.

Though Uber Taiwan has reached a tentative agreement with the MOTC, the Directorate General of Highways under the ministry has continued to fine Uber partner drivers driving with those cars, Shen said.

The drivers also wanted the ministry to present a timetable for negotiations between government agencies and Uber.

The organizers said they expected to get a response from the ministry on Sunday evening, and warned that if they did not, they would stay in front of the ministry through Monday.

The government has determined that Uber cannot legally operate transportation services in Taiwan because it is registered in the country as an information services company.

According to Uber, more than 1 million people in Taiwan have downloaded the Uber ride-sourcing app since the company entered the local market four years ago and 15 million trips have been recorded.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Kuo Chung-han)