Many drivers hit back as modern ride-hailing services like Grab have expanded into the traditional turf.
It’s 10 a.m. at My Dinh Bus Station, less than a kilometer away from the Hanoi office of ride-hailing company Grab.
A middle-aged security guard sprinted toward a crowd of Grab drivers, all in the now recognizable green uniforms.
“Go away!” he shouted, a bamboo pipe in his hand.
The crowds turned their head. The Grab drivers slowly dispersed.
But about ten minutes later, more Grab motorbikes came and formed even a bigger crowd, their eyes on the menacing guard and his primitive weapon.
The guard did not like this part of his job. “I’m sick of having to chase them away all the time,” he said loudly, as if he were yelling at the green colony of drivers. “They are like water ferns. You throw a stone and they break up for a while. Then they just come right back.”
The angry xe om drivers nearby would not use such an poetic allegory.
Their motorbike taxi services had for a long time allowed them to have a fluctuating but stable source of income, despite the recent rise of taxi cabs. But ride-hailing firms started to move into their territory a couple of years ago and quickly make inroads.
As the trepidation of losing their turf to the younger, mobile phone-wielding rivals grows, so does the disdain.
“They are mostly students, young and strong, why don’t they get another job?” a middle-aged xe om driver said, surrounded by four others.
In the media, the man and his self-employed peers would be referred to as “traditional” drivers, as opposed to the new army of presumably tech-savvy drivers.
That morning, they did not state what their preferred title was. They only insisted anonymity due to the complexity of the issues.
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