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Crackdown pledge sees taxi drivers end strike

STRIKING taxi drivers returned to work in northwest China's Qinghai Province yesterday after a county government promised to crack down on unlicensed cabs.

The strike began at 8am on Sunday when more than 100 taxi drivers gathered on a road in Tongren County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, to demand official curbs on illegal taxis.

They also demanded a rise in the 3-yuan (40 US cents) minimum fare and the installation of meters.

The lack of regulation of the market in taxi licenses had led to the problems, said Doje Nanjor, vice head of the county transportation bureau.

"The 6.5-square-kilometer county seat has about 40,000 people. The government has issued 180 taxi licenses since 2003, most of whom were unemployed workers. The registration fee is 960 yuan for each driver," Doje said.

Doje said the government was considering the drivers' demands. He did not give the number of the unlicensed cabs but one driver said the number of unlicensed cabs exceeds 300.

"Illegal cab drivers can earn more money easily because they do not have to pay for a license, which can cost up to 40,000 yuan for each driver," he said.

The Qinghai strike came shortly after the Ministries of Transport and Public Security announced a nationwide crackdown on unlicensed taxis in an effort to protect cabbies from illegal competition.

The three-month campaign will start on Friday.


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