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August 4, 2009

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Motorcycle taxi drivers secure deal after rallies

MORE than 400 unlicensed motorcycle taxi drivers rallied yesterday against a government order banning their operations in the southeast China city of Quanzhou in Fujian Province.

About 1,000 drivers held a similar rally on Saturday.

The drivers started gathering outside the compound of the municipal government at 8am yesterday and dispersed by about 11:30am after the government promised to help them find new work.

About 100 police attended but no violence ensued.

Driver Tan Weihan, 33, said he knew it was illegal to operate a taxi service without a license. However, it was his family's only income.

"We need help," Tan said.

Vice Mayor Hong Zesheng and other government officials are in talks with 10 representatives of the drivers.

To help motorcycle taxi drivers, labor and social security authorities in three districts of the city where most of the drivers live would provide free job training and employment help, Hong said.

Those who face financial difficulties could apply for help from the civil affairs administration, Hong added.

The Fengze District government is offering security guard jobs and positions as cleaners for the drivers and a 50,000-yuan ($US7,320) loan free of interest for two years.

A local security company has so far recruited 60 people from the drivers.

The city banned motorcycle taxis from August 1 on the grounds that drivers were not only unlicensed but had also been involved in crime.


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