10,000 Vinasun cabbies seek permission for rally against Uber, Grab in Vietnam

More than 4,200 Vinasun drivers quit their job in Q1/2017

A row of Vinasun taxis wait to enter Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

More than 10,000 Vinasun employees have signed a petition seeking permission to stage a public protest against app-based ride-hailing services Grab and Uber, the Vietnamese taxi operator announced on Thursday.

With tech-based drivers rapidly eating away at market shares controlled by traditional taxi companies, more than 4,200 Vinasun drivers felt they had been left with no other option but leaving their job in the first quarter of this year alone, the company said in a petition submitted to the central government.

More than 10,000 Vinasun drivers have also signed a complaint seeking permission to stage a march protesting their Uber and Grab rivals, according to the document.

Uber and Grab allow people to hail private cars with just a few taps on their smartphones using predetermined fares, usually cheaper than normal taxis', to eliminate any worry of being cheated or scammed.

Conventional taxi firms can by no means compete with ride-hailling services in terms of fares, as the former normally buy cars themselves while the latter utilize private vehicles owned by the drivers or those hiring them.

Vinasun has complained that these tech-based services operate without following strict rules imposed on traditional taxis. 

The Vietnamese company asserted that Uber and Grab have managed to avoid paying taxes and other fees.

The taxi operator also decried Uber and Grab’s ability to launch promotional campaigns and offer discounts without being required to first seek permission from competent agencies.

Vinasun said it is willing to face competition, but the game must be fair for all sides.

The taxi operator suggests that Uber and Grab’s business models be considered by the government as similar to that of traditional taxis, instead of the ambiguous ‘transporting passengers via electronic contracts.'

This change would put the app-based services under the same management and regulations as their conventional taxi counterparts, according to Vinasun.

Uber is not taxi

The Ministry of Transport received the Vinasun petition on behalf of the government, but the taxi operator probably was not prepared to hear the response.

According to the transport ministry, it is impossible to classify Uber and Grab as traditional taxi companies because their business models involve transporting passengers as per a contract made electronically via the app, rather than on paper as with traditional transport companies.

The e-contract, however, is totally legitimate and the government is piloting a plan to apply technology to the passenger transportation sector, the ministry explained.

Grab has in fact been officially allowed to operate in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the south-central province of Khanh Hoa under that pilot program.

The ministry said applying technology is inevitable for any sector, and transportation is no exception.

It, however, suggested that Vinasun could seek consultants from the Ministry of Industry and Trade to complain about what it says is unhealthy competition posed by the app-based rivals.

The transport ministry did not comment on the proposed rally requested by Vinasun drivers.

As requested by the government, the transport ministry has selected seven app-based services to take part in the pilot program in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Khanh Hoa, namely Mailinh Car, Thanhcong Car, Home Car, LB.Car, and Vic.Car, besides Uber and Grab.

Earlier this week, the ministry requested that these services stop expanding their fleets to ease pressure placed on the local traffic infrastructure by the huge number of cars joining the program.

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