Hong Kong cabbies hold protest against ‘unlicensed taxis’ on Uber

Citing figures from government and ride-hailing firm, group demands police action against drivers using ‘false documents’ to register on mobile platform

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 12:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 5:43pm

A group from the local taxi trade protested outside Hong Kong Police headquarters on Thursday, calling on the force to take action against unlicensed cabs providing services via ride-hailing giant Uber.

Wong Wing-chung, chairman of the 1,000-member North West Taxi Driver and Operators Association, said police should investigate whether Uber was allowing drivers to register on the mobile platform with “false documents”.

“We learned from the news that Uber claims to have tens of thousands of cars available on its platform. But the Transport Department said it had issued only several hundred taxi licences. So we believe some people are lying and using false documents,” he said.

But Wong said he was not against the idea or use of taxi-hailing apps. “If Uber allows us to charge double and triple fees … and get rid of all the unlicensed cabs, we taxi drivers can use Uber as well,” he said at the protest, which started at about 10am.

He dismissed the frequent complaint of passengers that it is hard to get a taxi in the busy city. “There are a number of mobile apps other than Uber. You can get a cab with a 15 per cent promised discount with them even in the worst rush hour,” Wong said.

Other taxi driver organisations threatened to block off the government headquarters in Admiralty at noon with their vehicles and sound their horns for 30 seconds in protest at unlicensed services.

There are 18,163 taxis in Hong Kong, with 40,000 drivers. The industry has long been associated with poor service and overcharging.

Uber revealed in December that its registered drivers numbered more than 30,000 in the city, where the company has said its services had more than 300,000 active users.