Protest against Uber rocks Cape Town

Cape Town - Metered taxi drivers have expressed their outrage at internet ride hailing company Uber's operations in Cape Town on Thursday by taking to the streets in protest.

Several drivers blocked roads in the city centre in a protest against what they perceive as Uber's flouting of laws around licensing requirements in the transport industry.

Uber is no stranger to controversy and recently the City of Cape Town impounded 65 vehicles for allegedly operating an illegal service. The City of Cape Town wants Uber to comply with the Western Cape province's metered taxi permit system.

In a statement, Uber dismissed the protest.

"Despite today's protest Uber will continue to provide our world-class service to the people of Cape Town. We will continue to train and upskill all partner-drivers and provide them with as many benefits as we can, so they can grow and succeed in their businesses. Safety, reliability, innovation and choice – not protests – are what draw consumers to the transport of the future," an Uber spokesperson told Fin24 via email.

Serious competition

"The rationale behind that is that the City [of Cape Town] says that the vehicles don't have the correct operating licences, but from our side, we've been engaging with the province and the city since early last year to try and figure out what exactly is the correct category to fit the product in," Anthony le Roux, Uber general manager for Cape Town told Fin24 on a drive around the city.

The company has faced a number of similar protests around the world as metered taxi drivers bemoan the fact that Uber does not meet the often strict licensing requirements.

However, the Uber business model is significantly different in that drivers can be owner operators. Meanwhile Uber then acts as a facilitator for rides.

Metered taxi drivers have expressed their outrage at Uber. (Dane McDonald, Fin24)

"The reality here is that you've got a disruptive innovator coming into the market. You've got a business model that doesn't necessarily fit into any operating licence category and really, this is where you see that innovation is leading the regulation," said Le Roux of the company which is now valued at over $40bn.

The company is no doubt providing serious competition to the taxi industry. Uber has grown quickly in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban where it claims it has more than 2 000 drivers. The company plans further expansions throughout Africa as it has also launched a service in Nairobi, Kenya.

"Uber is an ambitious company. We want Uber to be everywhere, including other markets in Africa, so you'll have to 'watch this space'. Each market around the world has its own needs and challenges, so we approach each market entry on a country by country basis," said Le Roux.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

Government tenders

Find public sector tender opportunities in South Africa here.

Government tenders
This portal provides access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations in all spheres of government.
Browse tenders