Illegal taxis that deceive visitors by carrying the names of established taxi operators continue to be a major source of headache for HCM City authorities.

A female visitor from Malaysia recently filed a complaint to local authorities, saying she was fleeced by an illegal taxi driver.

She was asked to pay 4 million VND (200 USD) for a 20-minute drive from Ben Thanh Market to Tan Son Nhat Airport, but the ride costs an average of 150,000 VND (7 USD).

More and more disgruntled customers, local and foreign, are coming in to complain about illegal taxis.

Inspectors from the Department of Transport (DoT) said they had discovered and fined many of the illegal taxis, but the situation remained out of control.

Vinasun and Mai Linh, the two most popular names in the business, are also the most popular names that illegal operators use.

From early 2010 to now, Vinasun took legal proceedings against one fake taxi company, bringing 24 impostors to trial, Nguyen Van Tien, director of Vinasun's legislation office, said.

After being overcharged by taxis or having their belongings stolen in the vehicles or being treated rudely by drivers, customers who complained to the taxi's office then discovered that the taxis they had taken were fake.

Many illegal taxi drivers are those who used to work for big taxi companies before quitting and starting their own illegal operation.

The best way to tackle the problem was for DoT inspectors to establish close links with the traffic police, taxi operators and local authorities, said Ta Long Hy, chairman of the HCM City Taxi Association.

DoT inspectors and the police needed to carry out regular inspections, he said.

The city is set to ban fleet expansion by taxi companies as it seeks to improve oversight of taxi operations and restrict the number of vehicles.

A new regulation passed by DoT, which is expected to take effect on June 1, allows the city's 36 taxi businesses and cooperatives to replace old vehicles.

The number of taxis on the city's streets has skyrocketed to 12,551, or 84 percent of the number originally expected to operate by 2020. Many taxis running without licences and the number of fake taxis is on the increase.

Taxis meet about 2-3 percent of the city's public transport need, according to the city authorities./.