Thailand suspends Uber and Grab motorcycle taxi service

Thailand has suspended motorcycle taxi-hailing services run by Uber and its regional rival Grab on claims they broke local rules and are clashing with registered transport companies.

Thai authorities have also arrested 66 drivers working for both companies.

They said offenders face fines of up to 4,000 baht (£77; $112) and potentially having their licences suspended.

It is unclear how long the ban is for, but both companies said they were working to resolve the issues.

"This is a temporary pause for a global pilot," Uber said in a statement to the BBC.

"We hope to resume services as quickly as possible and have every reason to believe, based on the positive, and productive discussion we are having with the relevant authorities in Thailand that this is possible."

"Grab Thailand is a local company and we are committed to providing safe rides for all and improving the lives of our drivers," Grab said in an e-mailed statement.

It added it is looking to ensure that "GrabBike service operates within the proper guidelines and work together towards a well-regulated ecosystem of complementary transport services".

The crackdown comes just three months after Uber launched its two-wheeler service in the Thai capital Bangkok.

Motorcycle taxis are popular in Bangkok because they can weave through the city's notorious traffic jams to cut travel times.

There are more than 186,000 registered motorcycle taxis in Thailand, with almost half found in the capital.

The service is also popular in other major Asian cities, such as Jakarta and Manila.

However, popular ride-hailing apps like Uber and Grab have faced stiff opposition.

Earlier this year, taxi drivers in Jakarta brought parts of the capital to a standstill, with some protestors turning violent.