Vietnam cracks down on Uber drivers for second time

By Dinh Muoi, Thanh Nien News

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Ho Chi Minh City traffic inspectors checked an Uber taxi at Tan Son Nhat International Airport on Monday. Photo: Dinh Muoi

Ho Chi Minh City traffic inspectors launched their second crackdown on unlicensed taxis, Monday, including those that link up with customers through the taxi-hailing app Uber.
Officers were deployed at Tan Son Nhat International Airport and bus stations around the city. 
Le Hong Viet, deputy chief-inspector of the HCMC Transport Department, said inspectors will coordinate with traffic police officers to track down taxis that lack proper signage, two-way radios and meters.
They will also fine taxi drivers who lack the required badges. 
On November 28, municipal traffic inspectors launched a sweep targeting unlicensed taxis and fined 11 drivers, many of whom said they were using Uber. 
The crackdown stirred a controversy about the operation of Uber taxis in Vietnam. 
During a press conference held on December 1, Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Hong Truong said Uber’s operation violated the Traffic Law and government requirements for transportation services. 
The HCMC Department of Transportation said online taxi-booking services have not yet been regulated by Vietnamese law, so it is illegal for Uber to operate in the transportation sector.
He warned that Uber's business model created unhealthy competition for licensed taxi companies. 
The HCMC Taxi Association and the Hanoi Transportation Association also sent complaints about Uber’s taxi operations to the Ministry of Transportation. 
In reply, Vietnam's Minister of Transportation Dinh La Thang said Uber Technologies Inc., had been licensed by the governments of Hanoi and HCMC as a technology business, not a transportation business. For that reason, he said the company's operations fell outside his purview. 
Despite its self-professed lack of jurisdiction, the ministry ordered Uber Technologies Inc. to sign contracts only with transport companies that have been licensed by Vietnamese authorities and comply with the country's operational standards. 
It also ordered transportation companies that have or will sign contracts with Uber to comply with Vietnamese laws on cars and drivers. 
The ministry said random inspections will be launched to periodically check the operations of these transportation companies, and if the companies fail to meet the requirements, they will face penalties.
Uber will face penalties as well, it warned.

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