Uber, the ride sharing service that functions similar to a private taxi, is seemed deemed to be illegal in Gauteng according to roads and transport MEC Ismail Vadi.
Uber is a smartphone-based application developed in California USA. It allows people to use their smartphones to contact drivers connected through Uber for trip requests. These drivers, in turn, use their own private vehicles to transport those who requested, functioning similar to taxi cabs.
Viadi, through Talk Radio 702, said that there is ongoing legislation between metered taxi associations and chartered services. This legislation, according to Viadi, does not seem to accommodate or cater to Uber. He also said that they had told Uber drivers that they need to register if they wanted to operate. They will not be allowed to do so if they had failed to register, as they will be deemed as illegal operators.
Can be legal
Independent transport analyst Paul Browning says that there is a law that may be able to accommodate Uber. However, it has not yet been passed into legislation as of the moment. However, even if the so-called National Land Transport Act (NLTA), were to be passed as law, Browing believes that Uber drivers still need to apply for taxi operating licenses as that Act defines a ‘metered taxi’ being equipped with meters.
Yet, Uber seemed to be under no category as the NLTA was drafted before the time of smartphones according to Samantha Allenberg, an Uber spokesperson. She also said that the national department of transport issued a practice note, which requires Uber driver to obtain taxi operation licenses while the NLTA has not yet been amended to cater to Uber.
Puts people out of business
John Ramaema runs a metered taxi business at OR Tambo Airport. He has been earning enough to send his children to school and put food on the table.
He believes that Uber has put his business at its lowest point as he has been competing with the low-cost fares and easy-entry of Uber drivers.
Ramaema entered into a contractual agreement with the Airports Company of South Africa, which allowed them to operate taxis from the airports with the condition that they get rid of older vehicles and replace them with new ones. However, Uber drivers have been freely entering and exiting airports to fetch passengers without even entering into the same agreement as Ramaema did. This has made Ramaema question the need for the contractual agreement.
Taxi operators like Ramaema believes that Uber has been violating the set of rules that he and many others have been abiding by for years. It seems as though different rules apply to Uber. He also believes that Uber will soon lead many of his kind of out business if it remains unchecked by the government.