JAKARTA - Thirty Uber cars have been seized in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in recent months, a transport official said Monday, prompting the controversial ride-hailing app to accuse authorities of "unreasonable intimidation".
The news came after the city of Bandung, on the main island of Java, last week banned Uber, and as the Silicon Valley company faces challenges worldwide from regulators concerned about its business model and traditional taxi drivers angered at what they see as a threat.
Uber, an app that allows customers to hail private rides via their phones, has proved popular in Jakarta, a metropolis plagued by monster traffic jams but with scant public transport.
However Jakarta authorities say that Uber is operating illegally as it has no public transport permit and does not pay tax.
Uber, however, insists it is not a public transport company, but a technology firm, which does not own or operate vehicles or employ drivers.
A task force impounded the vehicles in two operations this month and last, the Jakarta transport office said.
"It's only 30 cars compared to thousands of cars they have, but I want people to learn a lesson that this is wrong," head of the office, Andri Yansyah, told AFP.
Yansyah said the car owners would have to go to court, pay a fine and sign a document stating they would not join any company such as Uber until it followed local regulations.
Jakarta police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said that while the cars were seized for operating illegally, the drivers themselves had not been detained.
Uber spokesman Karun Arya said that Uber drivers in Jakarta had been victims of "frivolous and unreasonable intimidation by the enforcement authorities".
He added that Uber was looking forward to holding talks with Indonesian authorities and working towards a long-term solution, but Yansyah insisted vehicle seizures would continue until the firm made moves to adopt an official permit.
Uber has been maintaining an aggressive international expansion plan despite fierce opposition in some countries from regulators and established taxi industry players.
The company decided to suspend its low-cost service in France after a nationwide taxi strike in protest against Uber turned violent.
San Francisco-based Uber says it operates in some 250 cities and 58 countries.