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Some cabs in Hunan return to the streets

ABOUT one-third of the taxis in the central China city of Yueyang in Hunan Province were back on the road yesterday, after their drivers went on strike for three days to protest overcharging by the companies they worked for.

About 500 taxis returned to service in the early morning hours after the city government agreed to intervene with taxi companies and get them to reduce the monthly fees paid by the drivers, said Fu Hongbo of the urban management bureau.

In a statement broadcast non-stop on Yueyang's television and radio stations on Sunday, the city government said taxi drivers could suspend paying their monthly fees until new standards were set.

Officials also told pricing authorities to "thoroughly investigate the issue, listen to the drivers' grievances and readjust the monthly fees."

Dozens of drivers parked their cabs outside an office building of the Yueyang government last Friday, demanding a cut in fees, better services from taxi firms and a crackdown on illegal cabs.

More drivers joined the strike on Saturday. Some cabbies who continued to drive were stopped and beaten and their cabs smashed. Police detained 11 people for allegedly forcing drivers to strike.

Yueyang has 11 taxi firms operating about 1,600 cabs and employing 3,000 drivers. Drivers must pay their company about 6,400 yuan (US$941) per month.

Some drivers are still watching the situation. "No, I won't get back on the road; not until we know for sure the monthly fee has been reduced," said a driver surnamed Hu.


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