Chinese taxi drivers in at least six provincial capital cities have staged strikes to protest high rental fees, long hours and smartphone applications that link unlicensed private cars with commuters.

Cabbies in the cities of Jinan, Shenyang, Chengdu and Nanjing have organized work stoppages this month, making it possibly the largest protests by the drivers so far, the Communist Party-run People’s Daily reported on Jan. 15.

The protests mirror go-slow actions by taxi and limousine drivers from London, Madrid and Berlin unhappy with unlicensed operators and the car-sharing service run by Uber Technologies Inc. In China, the discontent is exacerbated by the regulation of fares, which have been kept low by local governments to keep transportation affordable.

“Taxi drivers feel that their livelihoods are at risk,” said Xu Kangming, founder of Shanghai-based consultant 3E Transportation Systems. “Private car services and car rental services provided by apps could further hurt business.”

Kuaidi Dache, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Didi Dache dominate almost 99 percent of the market with 154 million registered users in more than 300 cities, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Taxi drivers in China must work for companies such as Shanghai-listed Dazhong Transportation Group Co. and Shanghai Qiangsheng Holding Co. after individual licenses were stopped in 1994, according to Xinhua.

Many complain of the high rental fees they must pay the companies and expensive cab license plates, which have soared to as high as 800,000 yuan ($13,000) in the northeastern city of Shenyang, according to the Xinhua report. The high costs force taxi drivers to work long hours, endangering their health and passenger safety, Xinhua said.

China’s transport ministry banned private cars from offering unlicensed taxi services through mobile-phone apps on Jan. 9, though it also endorsed the software as having a “positive role” for licensed vehicles and chauffeurs, according to the ministry’s website.

This article was written by Bloomberg News from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Photo Credit: The blur of traffic and taxis in Beijing -- when cabbies are not on strike. Ernop / Flickr.com