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July 7, 2012

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Baoshan raid nets more than 100 unlicensed three-wheelers

MORE than 100 illegal three-wheelers were confiscated yesterday morning in a raid at an underground refitting factory in Baoshan District, authorities said.

It was part of a campaign to stop the use of three-wheeled scooters from illegally operating as cabs at subway and bus stations.

The boss, surnamed Yao, of the refitting factory, which was hidden in an abandoned factory building on Lianyang Road, was caught at the scene.

Yao claimed his business was legal but police said his license was forged. Yao's factory was sealed yesterday and all 10 refitted three-wheelers and more than 100 half-finished ones were confiscated by the authorities.

"They only refit the scooters at night and can finish nearly 1,000 in a month," said an informant surnamed Gu, who had worked as an illegal three-wheeler cabbie.

Gu's wife, who also drove a three-wheel cabbie as well, once broke her leg in an accident, which made the family realize the danger of the job.

"My wife was in bed for two months and suffered a lot," Gu said yesterday.

The illegal three-wheeled scooters, refitted with an electric engine, are used as cabs to shuttle people between residential areas and nearby Metro stations. The vehicles are notorious for safety problems.

"After the refitting, the scooters can travel up to 60 kilometers per hour but they only have a brake on one wheel," said a police officer surnamed Du.

However, Gu said despite the risks many are willing to take a chance as a driver because the job provides a stable income.

"I usually earned at least 4,000 yuan (US$628) per month," Gu said. "My wife and I together could sometimes make 10,000 yuan, which was more than most jobs we could find."

With more people taking up the business, more places started to do the refitting as well and the price of an electric three-wheeler dropped from 3,000 yuan to 1,200 yuan in recent years, said Gu.

"Once my scooter was confiscated, I would just buy a new one and continue our business," Gu said.

More than 3,800 illegal three-wheelers have been confiscated this year in Baoshan, according to police.

Baoshan District's urban management officers and police, along with personnel from the industry and commerce department participated in the raid.


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