Uber and Thailand’s Transport Ministry agreed Monday to conduct a study aimed at finding a way to legalise the service in the country, according to the Bangkok Post.
However, while the study is ongoing, Uber will be required to halt its ride-hailing service in Thailand — a decision the company has rejected.
According to the article, measures to clamp down on Uber drivers will be stepped-up for the next six months to a year while the study is being conducted.
Amy Kunrojpanya, Director of Policy and Communications for Uber Asia Pacific said the company will not halt its service and that it will only agree to the joint study. She was quoted as saying there is no law in Thailand to regulate the service and that Uber takes care of its drivers.
In Taiwan, a similar type of crackdown led to the company racking up US$35.4 million in fines in a month. Uber pays for the fines when its drivers are cited in legal disputes with the government. The company stopped its ride-hailing service in Taiwan in February.
Additionally, Thailand’s Professional Association of Public Taxi Motorists wants find a way to make Uber explicitly illegal. Chairman Woraphon Kaemphunthot said he will ask the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to shut down the app in the country, according to the article.
To appease people who have become loyal users of ride-hailing technology, the government plans to release a taxi-app called TAXI OK which will involve legally-registered taxis.
Rough waters in Southeast Asia
2017 has seen a firm regulatory backlash against the ride-hailing industry across the region. Last week, new government regulations in Indonesia prompted the three major brands (Uber, Grab and Go-Jek) to issue a joint statement condemning the move.
In Hong Kong, the courts fined five drivers HKD10,000 (US$1,287) and suspended their licenses for a year. They were found guilty of using private vehicles for hire.
As mentioned above, Uber suspended its activities in Taiwan but this week its offices were raided over unpaid business taxes.
In Singapore last week, the Land Transport Authority gave taxi companies the green light to offer surge pricing as a way to compete with ride-hailing services like Grab and Uber.
e27 reached out to Uber for comment and will update accordingly.
Copyright: moleks / 123RF Stock Photo
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