Two more Uber drivers have been arrested, amid a police crackdown which saw five drivers and three staff arrested on Tuesday on charges of operating illegal hire car services.

Undercover officers used the transportation firm’s mobile application to hire cars to go to Kowloon Tong on Wednesday afternoon. They revealed their identities and arrested the drivers upon arrival.

The two arrested drivers, aged 34 and 53, were charged with carrying passengers illegally for reward and not having third party risks insurance, local media reported.

Uber's office in Cheung Sha Wan
Uber’s office in Cheung Sha Wan with a sign: “I want to drive Uber”.

Uber, a car service provider, was targeted by authorities on Tuesday as police raided the company’s offices and arrested three staffers and five drivers.

Police Commissioner Steven Lo Wai-chung told local media on Wednesday that they consulted the Department of Justice and the insurance industry before the operation. Lo said that he does not rule out further action and arrests.

The two drivers, along with eight others previously arrested, have been released on bail. It was reported that the eight staff and drivers were released on a bail of HK$200,000 each.

The raid on Uber has evoked a mixed response among Hongkongers, with politicians and members of the public voicing objections while taxi representatives welcomed the government’s action.

Uber police crackdown hong kong
Three Uber staffers arrested.

Despite the crackdown, Uber drivers received a message from the company on Wednesday saying that it is fully supportive of the drivers and has enlisted the help of its legal team.

The company added, “Hong Kong people are very supportive of Uber and our drivers have been receiving endless orders. Drivers who are at work should provide quality service to repay support.”

One driver told Ming Pao on Wednesday that there were only four to five cars for hire on Hong Kong Island—fewer than the usual 20—which in turn increased the amount of his orders. “I drove from 7:30am to 2pm. I have not even eaten!”

However some drivers were afraid to operate after the crackdown. One told Apple Daily that he did not have proper licence to run a hire car service. He said that he would not risk arrest and would only restart work as a driver once the case has been cleared.

Tesla Uber
Tesla Uber. Photo: Uber Hong Kong via Facebook.

While the crackdown on Uber continues, a GoGoVan driver pleaded guilty at Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday to the same charges as the arrested Uber drivers. The driver was fined and had his license suspended for one year.

Uber is an international transportation company that provides services similar to metered taxis. Users submit trip requests through a mobile app developed by the company, after which its drivers provide the service with their own vehicles. Uber sets up independent contracts with local drivers.

By law, vehicles carrying passengers for hire must obtain a hire car permit from the government. Violation of the law may result in a fine of HK$5,000 and imprisonment of three months on the first conviction, and a fine of HK$10,000 and up to six months’ imprisonment on the second conviction.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.