Taxi industry cries foul over Uber - TechCentral

Taxi industry cries foul over Uber

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Mobile phone taxi service Uber has become the latest target to feel the heat in the fight for dominance over South Africa’s transport sector. The growing opposition by other taxi operators to the service is now pressuring government to consider the regulatory environemnt Uber is operating under.

The Gauteng Metered Taxi Operations argues that Uber is putting metered taxis out of business. The group’s spokesman, Lucas Seale, says a regular metered taxi trip from Rosebank to OR Tambo International airport costs just over R400 and claims Uber charges under R200.

Seale has also raised issue with the fact that Uber is not operating under the same permits required for minibus and metered taxi drivers.

He explains that Uber drivers operate on a chartered license in Johannesburg, which he says is more difficult to obtain than a metered taxi permit and falls under the public operating licence.

To obtain such a licence, one has to have several documents including a business certificate, route particulars and proof of insurance among others, Seale says.

This is a matter the City of Cape Town has been trying to correct since last year. According to the city’s JP Smith, more than 200 Uber vehicles have been impounded since January.

Smith has, however, confirmed reports that the government is looking at amending section 66 of the National Land Transport Act to make e-hailling taxis a subcategory of metered taxis. He says the matter will form part of discussions at a meeting of the provincial legislature this week.

Uber GM Alon Lits, on the other hand, has expressed his frustration with the system, saying that the company has been in talks with government for almost a year.

Lits adds that there has been inconsistent interpretation of the act, as they have been previously told to apply for chartered operating licences.

Alon Lits

Alon Lits

The difference between the two is that the chartered license applies to door-to-door services such as shuttles, while the public operating license governs the transportation of commuters on specific routes.

Lits says the legislation is outdated and that it was adopted long before advances in smart phone technology. He says that Uber is open to talks with various taxi operators and government to find a resolution.

According to Lits, Uber is registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission. He explains that when consumers pay for the service, they enter into an agreement with the Netherlands-based company.

He further clarifies that drivers earn up to 80% commission of the fare that the company receives from a credit or debit card payment from the commuter.

Lits says most commuters feel safe with this system as it doesn’t require one to carry cash and that the vehicles are tracked.

The company announced earlier this year that it aims to create 15 000 jobs in the next two years. It has also claimed to have created over 2 000 jobs in South Africa thus far.

The app-based taxi service has faced similar regulatory challenges in France, America, Spain and the Netherlands.

However, there have been no negative reports of the Uber service in Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria.

  • This article was first published on Moneyweb and is republished here with permission

6 Comments

  1. Why the out cry over Uber, my mom took a metered taxi from OR Tambo to the house, that’s 10km the other side of Krugersdorp. About a total of 105km one way and it cost just over R400, but then again I know of people paying R1000 from Roodepoort to OR. Why should we be ripped off if the same service can be had for half the price? PS, the taxi my mom took, brand new, she didn’t know what make, but brand new and more importantly, safe!

  2. I use Uber 4 or 5 times a month, but I have never used a metered taxi. The model is completely different, Uber offer an amazingly convenient system and service. The metered taxis shouldn’t be looking for legislation to bail them out, they should be looking at their business models. The fact that Uber is so much cheaper speaks to the fact that metered taxis are ripping off consumers, surely that is something government should look at first?

  3. Fritz Milosevic on

    Agree with Russ. I am a weekly Uber user and hope I have to never again use a metered taxi. The advantages of Uber are well documented. The Gauteng Metered Taxi dude, Lucas Seale, is coming up with incoherent nonsense, unless he is miss-quoted. If the licence Uber is operating under is more difficult to obtain and has higher levels of business registration requirements – whats his issue?

    I was involved this week in one of the intimidation incidents at the Sandton Gautrain station. Shocking criminal behavior – and the security guards watch from far, police is of course nowhere to be seen.

    Unless the taxi guys start behaving lawful and understand that they need to re-invent their own business model (i.e. all join e-hailing) – there won’t be much progress. It’s shocking to witness such blatant violation of the rule of law and civil rights, but I suppose the government is not exactly a shining example to ordinary citizens (such as metered taxi drivers) when it comes to obeying the rule of law.

  4. R400 to OR Tambo, I I can get to Durban for R400 on a luxury bus! Go UBER go, free enterprise rules.

  5. I have had terrible experiences taking metered taxis in Cape Town at night. In the one instance the driver picked up a pack of what I assumed were drugs at the intersection. I challenged him on it. No response, so after he turned the corner I got out the car. I am not having him palm the drugs off on me if stopped by the police which is the ploy I think.

    The cars are generally filthy.

    Uber offers a safe, secure service that is many times more efficient and easy to use and reliable. It is also clean!! You rate the drivers so they will not mess around for long.

    Metered taxis to the airport are an absolute rip off.

    If you want to stop people drinking and driving Uber is the only solution!

  6. Uber is safe and reliable and also cheaper… Even if it wasn’t cheaper it would be a better option than minibus taxis. Also let them strike and see how their routes get taken over by other transport firms. This is just fair competition that benefits the end consumer.