A PEDICAB driver has been sentenced to three years in jail for his role in a demonstration in Wuhan in October, a human rights group said yesterday. The Jiangxia District People's Court convicted Tu Guangwen of 'gathering a crowd to disrupt orderly traffic' in protest against a ban on pedicabs, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China. About 1,000 disgruntled drivers, most of whom were laid-off workers, joined the protest on October 16, using their vehicles to block roads for nearly six hours. Unrest had been building since Wuhan city officials announced the city-wide ban on pedicabs in August in an effort to ease traffic congestion and give the city a face-lift. Hundreds of police and soldiers reportedly used force to disperse the protesters. Authorities detained five people, but the fate of the other four remains unknown. Tu's sentence was the first official word to emerge since the incident occurred. Spokesman for the rights group, Frank Lu Siqing, said his organisation heard of the sentence from official reports but had not been in touch with Tu's family. Officials in Wuhan were not available for comment. The rights group strongly urged authorities to show tolerance towards those laid off as a result of economic reforms rather than take such a 'contradictory' approach to resulting problems. 'Our centre strongly condemns this kind of action,' it said. Pedicabs were a new means of transportation that sprang up in the city after state-owned enterprises laid off workers or suspended production and sent workers home with partial pay. The demonstration was one of a series of protests across China in recent months against grievances that include delayed salaries or pension payments. Communist leaders in September endorsed a bold programme to shake up the nation's lumbering state sector through bankruptcies, mergers or share issues. The move has sparked worries of mass unemployment and social unrest. China's state sector is expected to shed 11 million jobs this year amid continuing market reforms.