Cabbies in strike in E. China

(Xinhua)
Updated: 2009-11-20 21:12

FUZHOU: Hundreds of taxi drivers have been in strike since Wednesday to protest against government plans to regulate the industry in Putian City, east China’s Fujian Province.

More than 200 of the city’s 622 taxis were parked near Putian New Bus Station on Friday. Few were seen in the street.

Protestors stopped taxis that were still in business and demanded the drivers join them. If refused, they would throw stones at the vehicles.

Some even sat in the doorway of the city hall for two hours to protest.

The city government has released a plan to give out 411 taxi licenses to replace the current ones that are about to expire.

It also planned to revoke the license of a taxi if the driver breaches service or traffic regulations for three times or above within a year.

Director of the municipal transport bureau Huang Hua said the moves were aimed to regulate the industry and improve taxi services.

Huang said “the existing taxi licenses were auctioned between 1999 and 2003 with a validity of 12 years, all of which will expire by 2015. We have to issue more licenses.”

“The city’s residents have complained that taxi drivers often refused or overcharged them. Many cabs are in poor conditions,” Huang added.

However, a taxi driver surnamed Gong said “we are already under the pressure from rampant illegal taxis, and 411 new cabs is simply unbearable for the market.”

“A fine is ok if we break the rules, but revoking the license is unacceptable,” Gong added.

Huang said the authorities had held a number of meetings with representatives of taxi drivers, but both sides failed to reach an agreement.

The city has set up a joint team of transport, police, pricing and quality inspection officials to end the taxi strike.

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