Taiwan to pull Uber from local app stores

File photo of the office of Uber Singapore at River Valley.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) plans to cooperate with other related departments to demand that the US-based Uber - an app that provides ride-sharing services and that has expanded to 45 countries around the world - be pulled from local app stores as Uber's services run contrary to local regulations.

Uber was established in San Francisco in March 2009. It arranged rides between passengers and drivers via a special programme, which quickly gained popularity around the world.

After it entered the Taiwan market, some taxi drivers marched in protest against the service, saying that it could affect their business.

As Uber recently released advertisements on its website and Facebook page for driver recruitment, saying that anyone over the age of 21 who has a driver's license and a vehicle can start their own business as a driver, the MOTC issued a fine to the company.

The MOTC stated that since local regulations for taxi management cannot be applied to Uber, it is hard to guarantee consumers' rights when they use Uber's services.

The MOTC continued by saying that local taxies are required to buy motor vehicle passenger insurance so that passengers' rights can be guaranteed in the event of an accident.

In addition, since Uber's transportation fee is not based on local taxi meters that have been authorised by the government, it may be hard to tell if Uber overcharges or mischarges its customers, said the MOTC.

The MOTC then stated that as Uber is not a government-registered company, it will be harder for citizens to ask for compensation if accidents or disputes occur.

The MOTC has demanded that Uber register with the government as a legal transportation service company and pay taxes based on local laws several times in recent months. However, Uber did not agree to the MOTC's request.

The MOTC has issued 18 fines to Uber since September for violating the Highway Act. The total amount of these fines has reached about NT$1 million.

Although some have said it is unreasonable for the MOTC to make such requests and issue such fines to Uber, the MOTC stressed that it is trying to maintain local market order and protect consumers' rights.

The MOTC stated that it is happy to see a new form of transportation service enter Taiwan's market, however, the MOTC should still be responsible for supervising any matter that may infringe on consumers' rights.

Uber Response

In response, Zheng Si-min, head of the communication department of Uber Asia-Pacific, said that Uber is willing to provide any information for the government to understand more about the operations of Uber.

In addition, Uber has set up a platform online for customers to make complaints.