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Uber runs into roadblock in bid to legalise drivers’ work in Thailand

Mar 22. 2017
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By THE NATION

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UBER and Thai authorities are at loggerheads over moves to |legalise the ride-sharing service in Thailand.

Uber has rejected a demand that it suspend its operations in Thailand until a study into legalising its operations is completed. The study could take up to 12 months.

Authorities have threatened to take legal action against drivers working for Uber if they continue operating without waiting for the results of the study.

Department of Land Transport director-general Sanit Promwong said on Tuesday that if there are any complaints against Uber drivers, the committee tasked with keeping order in the public transport sector, comprising military officers, police and DLT officials, will arrest and fine drivers who operate without a public transport licence.

He said the crackdown on Uber is one of the policies of the National Council for Peace and Order, in an attempt to keep order in the public transport sector.

The warning came after a meeting between the Ministry of Transport, the DLT and representatives of Uber on Monday agreed to look at the possibility of legalising Uber through the study. The study is expected to take between six and 12 months.

During the meeting, the authorities requested that Uber suspend its service nationwide until the results of the study are known but the California-based company rejected the request. 

Transport deputy permanent secretary Somsak Hommoung said if Uber refused to suspend its service while the study was being conducted it would make further talks, set for the next one or two months, more complicated. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has said he will not use Article 44 against Uber drivers.

“The [Uber] ride-sharing service is a good alternative for public transportation but an applicable law is needed to be issued in order to avoid creating a new problem,” he said after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. 

He said while there are no directly applicable laws to regulate Uber, the country’s taxi drivers must be protected and public services must be regulated through the issuance of licences. 

He said any violation of the law concerning the matter must be resolved with using existing laws and regulations. 

 

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