Be careful, taxi drivers told during tense strike

Be careful, taxi drivers told during tense strike

Nanjing, China - Despite some assaults by colleagues, cabbies are urged to continue carrying passengers.

Many taxi drivers in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, have been assaulted by colleagues since Thursday afternoon for not participating in a strike aimed at reducing the franchise fees that eat up much of their monthly revenue.

The local transport department has warned taxi drivers to watch out for their safety, but suggested they carry passengers as usual.

A few taxis responded to ride-hailing apps or stopped on the road for passengers during the weekend, but workers at the city's two railway stations said about 90 per cent of the taxis have stopped operation.

According to the Nanjing government, the transport and price departments are launching a survey into the taxi industry and will "initiate legislative proposals" dealing with the drivers' demands "in proper time".

The taxi drivers on strike demand that the franchise fees be reduced, the fuel surcharges be raised, and the ride-hailing apps that allow private car owners to act as taxi drivers be banned.

Depending on the difference of vehicle models, the city's 11,700 taxi drivers need to pay a monthly franchise fee of 7,000 yuan or 9,000 yuan ($1,140 to $1,470) to the taxi companies, which obtained the licenses in the early 1990s and collect fixed fees from the drivers.

Since Thursday, the Ministry of Transport has banned private cars from using ride-hailing apps and entering the taxi business, following taxi drivers' strikes in some Chinese cities, such as Shenyang, in Liaoning province; Huangshan, in Anhui province; and Qingyuan, in Guangdong province.

"Nanjing has prohibited private car drivers from carrying passengers," said Xu Bing, a worker from the passenger transport management bureau. "Those registered cars from legal taxi companies are still allowed to use the apps."

A worker surnamed Zhang from Nanjing transport department, who asked that his full name not be revealed, said that the monthly franchise fees might be lowered in 2015. Late last year, some leaders suggested that the fees be reduced.

"Raising the fuel surcharges and reducing the franchise fees simply will not solve the problem," said Zhang.

"Under the current monopoly of taxi companies, the taxi drivers in China will continue to submit most of their revenues and the number of taxis will hardly meet the demands of customers."

The frozen taxi licenses, which are controlled by the local governments, cost a substantial amount. A taxi driver in Shanghai needs to pay about 500,000 yuan for a plate, while Shenyang, Liao-ning province, charges 800,000 yuan.

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