Lawmaker says system promotes corruption and unreasonable profits An outspoken Shenzhen lawmaker has urged the government to end the monopoly of taxi companies and allow individual drivers to set up businesses. The city's taxi trade is now in the hands of a few government-sanctioned operators, which share complicated financial relations with the authorities. Cab drivers have to pay hefty rent each month to the operators for a licence. Yang Jianchang, a veteran Shenzhen People's Congress member, blasted the practice, which he said had bred corruption and placed a heavy burden on both drivers and consumers. 'The current policy has created opportunities for taxi companies to make unreasonable profits. It also makes it easy for certain officials to take bribes,' said Mr Yang during a group meeting of the congress session. He said each operator could pocket hundreds of millions of yuan a year through the monopoly, while the officials in charge were reportedly receiving up to 70,000 yuan in 'tea money' for each new licence they issued. 'Our taxi drivers have become the modern rickshaw coolies. They have to buy the car, pay the tea money and hand back a large share of their earnings to the operator everyday. Some taxi drivers have to work 84 hours a week to eke out a living.' Mr Yang said the monopoly had also led to a sharp increase in underground taxis. It is estimated that there are more than 30,000 illegal taxis in Shenzhen, many using forged licences and plates to disguise their business. Residents have complained that taxi fares are too high. The base fare in Shenzhen is 12.5 yuan, making it the highest on the mainland. The base fare in Guangzhou is only 9 yuan. The government has held several public hearings on the issue. But the fare has remained the same because of strong resistance among operators. Mr Yang urged the government to break up the monopoly and allow individual drivers to set up their own businesses. 'We could lower our taxi fares and improve our investment environment. It would be good for consumers and good for taxi drivers,' he said. Many cabbies in Shenzhen welcomed the proposal, but doubted if the government would listen. 'I can only make about 3,000 to 4,000 yuan a month. Business has got worse since the Shenzhen Metro opened. If the government doesn't do something, we'll be forced out of business,' said taxi driver Wu Guoxing . Another taxi driver, Zhang Cai , said: 'I don't believe the government will do anything. They are making millions out of it. Why would they want to change things?'