If you are a regular expat private car user in China, then you will have noticed a surge in cars without number plates. “I’m coming, but I don’t have a number plate, it’s stuck to the windscreen…look out for it”, is what the driver will say before his arrival. Be warned, this is an indication of incompetence.
Chinese news has recently reported on a number of private cars not registered in Nanjing entering the city. They come with thick northern Jiangsu accents or indecipherable southern twangs and with wide-eyed surprise at your expatness.
It is said that London cabbies take a test called The Knowledge; there is an important reason for that. If you are a taxi driver it is your job to know the quickest route; know your city…know your roads. These newcomers to our beloved Nanjing rely heavily on their GPS trackers, that sometimes feel like it is giving directions from the city in which it had come, not the streets of Nanjing.
After having taken private cars for almost two years now, this correspondent has almost forgotten what it is like to be in a car that knows where it is going. Not only is it frustratingly annoying when a private car cannot get a person from A to B without five U-turns, the danger in taking such cars is increasing.
Stories of Indian, British and American Uber drivers kidnapping people and putting them in danger seemed something that would never happen here. However, with more and more outsiders seemingly renting cars for the weekend, unregistered and untracked, danger increases.