Uber, the taxi-hailing smartphone application, has received a rather mixed reception in South Africa.
While it’s enjoyed a relatively hitch-free experience in Johannesburg, Uber’s Cape Town drivers haven’t exactly been welcomed with open arms by local authorities and competitors.
Alon Lits, head of Uber in Sub-Saharan Africa said that Uber drivers in Cape Town feel that they’re being unfairly targeted and pointed to the number of cars that have been impounded by authorities.
“There have been over 200 [cars impounded] to date,” Lits said. “These drivers have applied for their operating licences. And a question I have for the city is how many non-Uber vehicles were impounded?”
The problem stems from the fact that the Western Cape Metered Taxi Council wants Uber drivers to apply for and operate under metered taxi licences. Uber drivers on the other hand, feel that they shouldn’t need to, as they are not employed by Uber and use their own vehicles to ferry people around.
Brett Herron, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for transport, said that Uber’s business model doesn’t comply with the National Land Transport Act, and thus, it’s drivers need to apply for a metered taxi licence.
“We have over the past few months supported over 800 licence applications associated with Uber,” Herron told Business Day Live. “The city is not, however, the licensing authority — the provincial government is — and we are waiting for the provincial regulatory entity to make their decision.”
Lits said that Uber was working with Cape Town authorities to find a solution and end any ambiguity over the legitimacy of its operations.