Cars impounded as Jakarta cracks down on Uber

Police in Jakarta impounded five cars operating under Uber Technologies Inc. on Friday as the city launched a crackdown on the Internet-based car-pooling service.   

The cars were seized because the drivers were violating transport laws, said Benyamin Bukit, the head of Jakarta’s transportation agency.

The move followed complaints from the Association of Land Transport Operators (Organda), who claim that Uber drivers are operating illegally because they do not have taxi licences.

“Uber taxis are causing restlessness because their fares are lower than the official fares set by us,” Benyamin was quoted as saying by Detik.com.

His remarks immediately drew criticism on Twitter.

“Unsettling for the established and outdated taxi companies maybe but is very favorable for consumers,” technology writer Aulia Masna said.

Unsettling for backward minded authorities, while in the meantime Thai folk get to hitch a ride on a helicopter,” Halief Ardiasyah added.

Uber links passengers to drivers in privately owned vehicles, through a smartphone application, to provide rides at prices lower than typical taxi fares.

Jakarta’s Organda chief Shafruhan Sinungan said people working for him set up the drivers by ordering Uber taxis through its smartphone app.

“We surrendered the drivers and their vehicles to the Jakarta Metro Police,” he was quoted as saying by Suara.com.

Shafruhan said Uber’s business practices were unfair because drivers did not pay taxes.

“That’s why its fares are lower than those set by registered taxi companies,” he said.

Jakarta is the latest city to try to keep Uber’s fleet off streets.

Jurisdictions in India, the Netherlands, Canada and other countries have imposed a total or partial ban on the service.

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