Ride-hailing giant Uber has criticised Hong Kong for not updating its traffic laws, following the government’s latest roundup of its drivers.
“Ridesharing should not be a crime. Hong Kong is an international city known for its embrace of global economic trends and new technologies, but current transportation regulations have failed to keep up with innovation,” Uber said in a statement on Tuesday.
The remarks came after police arrested 21 Uber drivers Tuesday on suspicion of carrying passengers illegally for reward and not having third-party insurance. Police said they did not rule out further arrests as they continue the crackdown in the coming days.
“We are extremely disappointed by the police enforcement today,” the company said. “We stand together with the 21 driver-partners and their families, and will continue to provide assistance, including legal support, during this difficult time.”
Uber said it has an insurance policy that complies with all relevant legal requirements in Hong Kong. “Coverage applies from the moment a passenger gets into a vehicle, to the moment they are dropped off,” it said.
It added that the policy applies to all rides in the territory and covers passenger liability for up to HK$100 million each trip, which meet the requirements of the Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third Party Risks) Ordinance.
The company expressed a desire to work with the Hong Kong government to resolve the matter.
Police said the 21 drivers arrested on Tuesday failed to produce a hire car permit. They were given five days to produce documents proving they had bought third-party insurance. The force also urged Uber to respect Hong Kong law and ensure the safety of passengers.
Tuesday’s arrests followed a series of sting operations to crack down on the city’s online car-hailing businesses. In March, five Uber drivers were fined HK$10,000 and had their licenses suspended for 12 months after being convicted of driving cars without a valid hire car permit and third party risks insurance.
Last January, two Uber drivers were fined HK$7,000 and banned from driving for 12 months after pleading guilty to providing illegal car hires.
In response to the series of police roundups, Uber said on Tuesday: “Over 100 governments and cities across Asia, including China, and the world have regulated ridesharing, and we look forward to seeing Hong Kong become the next city to embrace this technology.”