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Uber to restart Taiwan operations after two-month pause

2017-04-11 14:44

MORE BACKLASH: Uber will resume its e-hailing service in Taiwan after being shutdown for two months. Image: iStock

Taipei - Uber said it would relaunch its ride-hailing service in Taiwan following a two-month hiatus on the island after sparring with authorities over legal issues.

The San Francisco-based giant, which has encountered regulatory roadblocks around the world despite its huge popularity, suspended operations in Taiwan in February due to an "impasse" with authorities who deemed it illegal.

Partnership with car rental operators

But on Monday (March 10)  the company said it would be reentering the market with a new business model.

"A brand-new Uber will serve Taiwanese once again," it said in a statement, without providing details or a date for the restart.

A source at Uber who asked not to be named said the model would involve working with "legal car rental operators".

Since it entered the Taiwan market in 2013, Uber had been racking up fines for running a business without the proper registration to operate as a taxi service.

Facing massive fines in Taiwan

In January 2017 authorities hiked the maximum possible penalty to Tw$25 million ($815 940) per driver, the highest in the world.

The company withdrew from the market a month later, criticising the government's actions for hindering innovation and called on President Tsai Ing-wen to take action.

Taiwan's transport ministry said it would welcome Uber as long as it works with licensed private drivers.

"The problem with self-use drivers was competition and inadequate protection for customers," Hu Ti-chi, an official at the ministry's department of railways and highways, told AFP.

Local media reported that the firm still has about Tw$830-million in outstanding fines.

Uber has faced stiff resistance from traditional taxi drivers across the world, as well as bans in some places over safety concerns.

Uber shutdown in Thailand

In neighbouring Thailand police have threatened to shut down Uber and recently taken to arresting and fining its drivers.

However, the smartphone app insists it is not a transport company like taxi firms, and that it is simply a platform connecting drivers and passengers.

In Myanmar it says it is in talks with Yangon's regional government to launch in the city "very soon".

Earlier in April, Wheels24 reported that an Italian banned the use of smartphone apps for the ride-hailing group Uber, saying they contribute to traditional taxis facing unfair competition, local media reported.

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Read more on:    uber  |  taiwan  |  industry news  |  ride-hailing app

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