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GrabBike drivers attacked by 'xe om' in southern Vietnam

GrabBike drivers attacked by 'xe om' in southern Vietnam

Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 14:21 GMT+7

Two GrabBike drivers were assaulted by a group of xe om in the southern city of Bien Hoa on Tuesday, the latest in a series of physical confrontations between the app-based and conventional motorbike taxi drivers in Vietnam.

A video of the scuffle, which shows the xe om chasing and aggressively beating two of their app-based competitors with sticks, made the rounds of social media on Tuesday.

In the footage, believed to be filmed at the Amata Industrial Park in Bien Hoa, the capital of Dong Nai Province which borders Ho Chi Minh City, one GrabBike driver suffering from a bleeding head is seen being taken to the hospital by his coworker.

The video sparked social media outrage, and is not the first time the rivalry between the app-based and conventional xe om drivers has turned violent.

Local police confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper late on Tuesday that they were looking into the incident following a complaint by the injured GrabBike driver.

According to police officers, the conflict broke out at 9:00 am, with the injured GrabBike driver identified as 35-year-old Nguyen Quang Tuoi, a Bien Hoa resident.

Tuoi was parking his motorbike inside the Amata Industrial Park when he saw his coworker being surrounded and attacked by a group of xe om, so he immediately rushed in to help him.

However, the conflict then intensified and the xe om eventually grabbed some sticks to assault the GrabBike drivers.

Tuoi fell to the ground during his escape and was struck several times by the armed xe om drivers. He was later admitted to a local hospital and received five stitches to a wound on his head.

Many GrabBike drivers then flocked to the park to protest the assault and only dispersed when police appeared.

A group of GrabBike drivers are seen at Amata Park in Bien Hoa, Dong Nai Province, southern Vietnam, on January 16, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A group of GrabBike drivers are seen at Amata Industrial Park in Bien Hoa, Dong Nai Province, southern Vietnam, on January 16, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre

In September 2017, another GrabBike driver was hospitalized after being attacked by a group of xe om near the An Suong Bus Station in Ho Chi Minh City.

In June of the same year, a similar incident occurred near the Mien Tay (Western) Bus Station, prompting police to fire into the air to stop the scuffle from becoming more violent.

Series of protests

In a separate development, numerous GrabBike drivers in the southern city of Can Tho, one of the latest markets to open up for the ride-hailing app in Vietnam, are also complaining that fares stipulated by the app are too low to make the business profitable.

Like other ride-hailing apps, Grab applies dirt cheap fares to lure passengers, putting a burden on the drivers’ shoulders.

In one example, it costs only VND33,000, or less than $1.5, to travel 7km from Ben Thanh Market to Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

GrabBike launched in Can Tho and five other cities, namely Hai Phong, Bac Ninh, Da Nang, Nha Trang and Vung Tau, in mid-December last year.

The app lured local residents into becoming its ‘partners’ by promising monthly incomes of up to VND14 million ($617); however some drivers have claimed that they are only able to make VND1 million ($44) a week in reality.

Other drivers have said that they merely book an average of 30 rides a week, each with fares as low as VND12,000-20,000.

A group of GrabBike drivers is seen in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A group of GrabBike drivers is seen in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Grab Vietnam has repeatedly made local headlines since the beginning of this year, with GrabBike drivers in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi taking turns to protest the company’s commission policy.

Grab previously charged GrabBike drivers 20 percent of their revenue per ride, but requested an additional 3.6 percent for ‘personal income tax deduction’ from January 1.

Following a strike by drivers in Ho Chi Minh City last week, the company was forced to revert back to their original commission of 20 percent.

Inspired by their ‘victory’ down south, GrabBike drivers in Hanoi staged their own strike on Monday, demanding that the commission be slashed to 15 percent.

Uber drivers in the Vietnamese capital also held their own ‘walkout’ on the same day, opposing a whopping 29.5 percent commission charged by the U.S.-based app.

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