The owners of more than 300 taxis in Tianmen, Hubei, have staged a five-day protest in front of the municipal government office demanding the removal of a new scheme that would strip them of their cabs and greatly reduce their income. The road in front of the government office has become a taxi rank since Wednesday while representatives of the owners and Tianmen government have been negotiating in Wuhan . The municipal government recently demanded that owners sell their cabs back to taxi companies at a fixed price of 75,000 yuan. The owners would need to pay a 70,000 yuan deposit and a 3,800 yuan monthly management fee if they wanted to drive the taxi, according to a protester. The owners bought the taxis two years ago for 125,000 yuan. Because of controls on the number of taxi licences, a two-year-old taxi could be sold for about 190,000 yuan, said a protester surnamed Zhou. 'It sounds like we would be giving up ownership for nothing if we still want to drive it,' Mr Zhou said. He said the owners were also angry because when they signed contracts with taxi companies two years ago, they were promised they would be able to retain ownership of their taxis and have to pay only a management fee to the company. They were promised the practice would not be changed at least for five years. He said the protesters were aware of the national tendency to centralise ownership and the right to operate cabs in taxi companies rather than individually, and owners had even signed fake contracts with taxi companies two years ago to deal with an inspection by the authorities. But Mr Zhou said the new scheme was not practical in Tianmen. 'It was a very bad offer. If I sold my taxi and worked for taxi companies as a driver, I could make only 900 yuan a month. How can I support my family with just 900 yuan?' he asked. 'We just want to be the owners of our own taxis and have all the money left after paying the management fee.' It is believed the Tianmen government has compromised, but taxi owners said they would not budge unless the government backed down completely. Similar protests broke out in Tianmen last summer and also in other Hubei cities, including Wuhan. Tianmen was the centre of a scandal last week when dozens of city administration officials beat construction company manager Wei Wenhua to death for filming a dispute between the officials and villagers.