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Indian Capital Bans All Web-Based Taxi Services

  • VOA News

India's capital has banned all web-based taxi companies after a woman accused a driver from the U.S.-based firm Uber of raping her.

Officials in New Delhi announced a ban against Uber on Monday, but on Tuesday extended it to apply to all taxi services except a group of six registered radio taxi providers.

Uber representatives said Tuesday the company had not received an official order to stop operating, and that it would issue a statement later in the day.

A finance company employee has accused 32-year-old driver Shiv Kumar Yadav of raping her last Friday after she fell asleep in his car. Yadav appeared in court on Monday.

Background checks at issue

Indian police told the Reuters news agency they are considering legal action against the taxi service for failing to run a background check on the driver. Police said Yadav had been jailed in a rape case last year, but later acquitted.

The company responded that background checks are not required, but CEO Travis Kalanick said Uber will work with the government to establish clear background checks for the Indian commercial transportation licensing programs.

Federal Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said the ban is not the solution.

Gadkari said regulations need to be improved and cited a report indicating one-third of drivers have fake licenses. He said the driver accused in the rape case did not have a proper record yet was able to get a license.

The case sent shock waves through the country. Thousands of women in Delhi have been relying on Uber, which began service in New Delhi a year ago, and other online cab services, which are regarded as a safe mode of transport in a city considered highly unsafe for women.

Many questioned whether a ban of online cab services will help improve security for women. The ban means hundreds of taxis will be unavailable in a city with a poor public transport system.

The fatal gang rape of a woman on a New Delhi bus two years ago has brought renewed attention to sexual violence in India.

Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia

Elsewhere, Thailand also ordered Uber to cease operations on Tuesday.

The Department of Land Transport said drivers picking up fare-paying passengers via Uber's app were neither registered nor insured to drive commercial vehicles, and that Uber's credit-card payment system did not comply with regulations.

Thiraphong Rodprasert, director-general of the department, said, effective immediately, Thai drivers who use personal vehicles for commercial use could be fined 2,000 baht ($61), and the transport department is working to implement higher penalties.

In neighboring Vietnam, Uber on Monday was to discuss means of regulating its service with transport ministry officials but canceled the talks, citing “important circumstances.”

In Indonesia - Southeast Asia's most populous country - private drivers using apps such as Uber to pick up fare-paying passengers are acting illegally, though the law has never been enforced, said Izzul Waro, an adviser to Jakarta's Transportation Agency.

Uber declined to provide immediate comment on its operations in Vietnam and Indonesia, citing the “crisis” in India.

Taxi-booking apps have irked drivers at traditional taxi firms across the globe. Consumers are increasingly using the smartphone software to find people willing to drive them, rather than booking a cab by phone.

Anjana Pasricha contributed to this report. Some material for this report provided by Reuters.

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