Taiwan will insist on three principles if ride-sharing company Uber wants to continue to operate in the country, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications reiterated Monday.
The ministry said Uber must pay local taxes, be covered by insurance and be regulated by the government.
It noted that the ministry has communicated with Uber many times since it set up its Taiwan operation.
The ministry has told Uber to run its service in a legal way, suggesting that it can apply to invest in local taxi services or passenger car rental services, or cooperate with legal taxi services.
So far, however, it has been unwilling to make such applications, the ministry said.
It was responding to a festival event organized by Uber at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei Monday that was aimed at soliciting public support for the ride-sharing service to stay in Taiwan. More than 200 people took part in the event.
Uber said the recent passage of an amendment to the Highway Act will scuttle any possibility of the ride-sharing service developing in Taiwan.
The amended law will take effect after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) promulgates it. Under the bill, the maximum fine for operators of illegal transportation services will be raised from its current level of between NT$50,000 (US$1,554) and NT$150,000 to between NT$100,000 and NT$25 million.
The bill also stipulates that operators who violate the law could be forced to shut down their business, and establishes a reward system to encourage the reporting of illegal practices.
In addition, the amendment states that those caught driving for a ride-sharing company will have both their vehicle registration and driving license suspended for four to 12 months, or terminated.
Once a vehicle registration or driving license is terminated, a new one cannot be obtained for a period of two years.
Uber said the decision ignores the rights of consumers to choose, a more flexible economic opportunity for drivers, and the use of high-tech to protect passenger safety.
It also impedes Taiwan’s opportunity to embrace the opportunities brought about by ride-sharing, Uber said.
Uber was registered in Taiwan four years ago as an information services company, but local taxi drivers have accused the firm of illegally operating ride-sharing services. It has more than 10,000 drivers locally and its app has been downloaded 1 million times in Taiwan.
The government has imposed multiple fines on Uber, whose ride-sharing service is illegal in Taiwan, but the company has ignored appeals by the authorities and continues to operate, triggering major protests by taxi drivers, who have accused Uber drivers of not paying taxes on the income they earn, unlike licensed cab drivers.
According to the ministry, Uber had been fined a total of NT$68.45 million for 481 violations and Uber drivers had been fined NT$20.83 million as of Monday.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel