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The City of Cape Town recently announced that it would be enacting new policies to improve metered taxi services, specifically looking at e-hailing services such as Uber. While the laws are still in development, they don’t seem to bode well for the San Francisco company’s operations in Cape Town. For starters, over 30 Uber-affiliated cars have recently been impounded by the city for not carrying proper licencing.
The City of Cape Town’s new by-laws and general policy will specifically look at challenges that relate to the competition posed by “illegal operators, technical constraints preventing new operators from entering the market, a lack of operating licences to expand the metered taxi industry, and e-hailing.”
In fact, a specific by-law will be developed to govern electronic payments with debit or credit card, and e-hailing together with the use of an e-hailing application to book a metered taxi.
In a statement made to Memeburn, Councillor Brett Herron who is a Mayoral Committee Member for Transport for Cape Town said that every Uber driver requires a public transport operating licence:
Uber does not itself operate public transport services or vehicles. Every vehicle that operates a public transport service must have a public transport operating licence — this includes those vehicles that operate using the Uber hailing service. Thus, those vehicles that have operating permits to provide public transport and use Uber to source their customers are operating lawfully.
Bloomberg reports that 33 Uber cars have been impounded over the weekend for not having proper permits.
Within Uber’s last 12 months of exceptional growth, its service was launched in Johannesburg followed by Cape Town and Durban. It didn’t take too long, however, for the Western Cape Taxi Council to put its foot down to this disruptive foreign service.
As one of the Uber drivers showed Ventureurn, according to the Taxi Council the San Francisco company is in contravention of the Taxi Council’s per kilometer billing requirements due its per kilometer and per minute billing system.
Herron points out that the City of Cape Town did in fact meet with Uber executives last year when it advised them that they must apply for metered taxi operating permits while new by-laws are being set out.
“Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority, has been unambiguous about the type of licensing they require and it is dishonest of them to suggest that they are the victims of ambiguity,” he says. “There is no reason why Uber should be given any special permission to operate without proper licensing. Nor does anybody have the authority to grant such a thing. They must get their house in order.”
As many of you likely know, this development is not entirely new for the car hailing service. Last month the service (together with similar taxi apps) got banned in India after an Uber driver was accused of sexually assaulting a passenger. Not too long after, the South Korean government indicted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for breaking transport law.
As one would easily conclude, 2014 has definitely been a bad year for the cab service. On the contrary, in fact, as the company managed to scale from operating in 60 cities to 250 last year. It also secured a fresh injection of cash, putting its valuation up at US$40-billion — six times bigger than what it was in 2013.