Uzbekistan: Cabbies Unhappy with New Regulations
Tashkent's jitney drivers are refusing to cave to government pressure to register, uznews.net reports.
Uzbekistan's Cabinet of Ministers passed new legislation calling for all taxi drivers to obtain licenses, paint their cars ivory-colored, install meters and bank card machines, and place orange lights on the roof with the sign "taxi." They must also affix the familiar chessboard insignia on the sides of the car.
The illegal cabbies, known as bombily, have refused to comply with the new regulations, despite the threat of heavy fines of $115-230 for driving without a hack license.
Last spring, tax inspectors pretending to be regular passengers pulled sting operations on the jitney drivers, fining many.
Drivers interviewed by uznews.net said they were discouraged from working for companies that keep a hefty portion of their pay. Some complained about the heavy cost of licenses, repainting and installing credit card machines.
The new regulations have angered drivers who said they would be left without a livelihood, particularly in Andijan and other poor regions. Their threatened protests were enough to get officials to back down from enforcement for a time, says the Human Rights Alliance in an e-mail statement January 8.
Transportation officials are still determining what to charge per kilometer, says gazeta.uz
Mirjalil Abdullaev, a Tashkent transportation licensing official in the mayor's office said that with a population of one million people, the city should have 9,000 taxis. Currently, there are only about 1,500 licensed cabs, and unreliable estimates of anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 illegal drivers, he said.