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Uber suffers second crackdown, repeated protest by taxi association in Vietnam

Uber suffers second crackdown, repeated protest by taxi association in Vietnam

Saturday, December 06, 2014, 18:37 GMT+7

The Ho Chi Minh City Taxi Association on Friday repeated its petition to have Uber’s operations suspended until it meets legal conditions to offer transport services, while the municipal traffic watchdog booked another five ridesharing drivers.

The association has proposed that the Minister of Transport and relevant regulatory bodies rule that Uber can only be allowed to operate in Vietnam if it meets all conditions specified in a government decree on transport business, according to chairman Ta Long Hy.

“Uber ducks all legal responsibilities when operating in Vietnam, and it lets the car owners, drivers and passengers be responsible in case of accidents,” Hy told a press meeting the association held in the southern megacity.

“Uber also abandons its duty to pay taxes and fees to Vietnam’s government while conventional taxi operators are burdened by these duties.”

The taxi association, however, admitted that it will have to adapt Uber’s technology in the industry in the next one or two years.

If traditional taxis switch to operate under Uber’s model, it will cause hundreds of billions of dong in annual tax losses for the state, Hy said. (VND1 billion ~ US$47,000).

In mid-November, the association protested that Uber creates unhealthy competition against its cabs and called for its services to be halted by local authorities.

Second crackdown

Also on Friday, traffic inspectors under the city’s transport department booked four drivers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, and one at the Southern Bus Station for offering Uber rides.

Most of the Uber drivers at the airport, however, were able to present full papers at the inspectors’ request.

Upon being pulled over, driver Tran Van Lang showed a license to offer automobile transport services from a transport cooperative in District 8.

The license states clearly that the cooperative’s cars are allowed to offer for-hire rides until the end of June next year.

Dinh Thi Le, head of the cooperative, confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper the same day that the car and three others joined the cooperative on November 13. All four take passengers via Uber and only have to pay a membership fee of VND100,000 ($4.71) per month, Le said.

However, all four Uber cars at Tan Son Nhat airport were still booked for offering automobile transport services without registering their business in accordance with governmental regulations, and the drivers had their driving licenses held by inspectors.

Local media reported earlier this week that the city’s traffic inspectors imposed civil penalties on five Uber drivers following a sudden check on November 27.

But Michael Brown, general manager – Southeast Asia with Uber, then told Tuoi Tre this was only an administrative check that ended with no arrest or fine.

Vietnamese authorities are under pressure from the taxi industry to ban Uber operations in the country, while Transport Minister Dinh La Thang said earlier this week that the ridesharing service must be legalized as long as additional legal documents are created.

For-hire cars

Michael Brown has told Tuoi Tre that Uber partners with local transport businesses, whose cars all operate in accordance with Vietnamese laws.

Uber is not a taxi but a drive-for-hire service, he added.

Khuat Viet Hung, deputy chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee, said if a business has a license to offer automobile transport services, it is eligible to offer rides via Uber.

But the for-hire Uber cars must meet certain conditions, such as having the name and telephone number of the transport business it works for on the sides of the vehicle, as well as the for-hire badge.

There should also be fire extinguishers and escape tools in the cars, Hung added.

“If traffic inspectors find an Uber driver does not work for any licensed transport company, or his car fails to meet the said conditions, the driver will be sanctioned,” he concluded.

Uber has reportedly sent a letter to the Vietnamese transport minister, and the transport ministry is due to have a meeting on the issue next week.

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