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Drama over Uber's legality


IN CASE you haven't heard of the company, Uber, it's basically a taxi service that operates from a mobile application on your smartphone/phablet/tablet/computer.

The idea behind it is great; anyone with a roadworthy vehicle and a licence can register to be a driver.

A potential client then requests a ride from an available taxi in their area and an available driver is sent there. It is a potentially devastating service for the metered taxi industry that relies on the same sort of clientele that Uber has been attracting.

Now, the problem that’s arisen, is that local metered taxi operators have threatened violence if the application isn’t made illegal; their complaint being, the service cannot be regulated. Transport MEC, Ismail Vadi, mentioned that the service is not legally regulated.

The legislation to regulate a service like Uber does not exist, yet. As transport analyst, Paul Browning, told - the legislation (The National Land Transport Amendment Bill with a provision for “e-hailing”) that could regulate the service, has not even gone through parliament.

The interesting aspect of Uber is that it is by no means a metered taxi service nor is it a charter service, therefore there aren’t really any definitions for a transport service operated through a smartphone and therefore, legislation and regulations must be put in place to protect those operating within the business and those competing with the service.

There is a plan in the Western Cape to introduce a by-law that would accommodate the likes of Uber as some 200 vehicles have been impounded in Cape Town alone, this year. Clearly, the South African Government was not prepared for this and will now have to resolve the matter, somehow.

Without going into too much detail, we’d like to ask the question: “Should there be a belated attempt by the government to regulate something as big as Uber, or would it be simpler to allow metered taxis to exist without regulation?”

Share your thoughts with us.

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