Government to announce new rules for Uber and Bolt

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Government plans new rules to regulate regulations to hailing services such as Uber and Bolt, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula confirmed on Monday morning.

With the rise of Uber, government has, on occasion, expressed a need for intervention and more clarity regulating the business' operations. However, the regulations first touted in 2017 have not been forthcoming until now.

According to a tweet posted by the transport minister on Monday, South Africa will follow the lead of other countries that have started regulating Uber and other players in the sector. 

Mentioning existing National Land Transport Act of 2009, which was in the process of being amended, Mbalula said the new regulations would soon fill the gap that existed when controlling ride hailing services and their operations in South Africa.

Mbalula was also foreshadowing a briefing on the amendments, set to take place in Cape Town on Tuesday morning.

Late last year, Uber lost its licence to operate in London, England, after concerns of substandard safety standards.

Last month, the Competition Commission released a report about the metered taxi industry, proposing an overhaul of the taxi licencing and fare regime in South Africa, which it thinks will increase competition.

The commission found that metered taxis are subject to area restrictions, while the e-hailing services operate anywhere. For instance, taxi operators may be limited to one municipality, while e-hailing drivers in Gauteng can operate between the Tshwane, Johannesburg, and Ekurhuleni regions.

The commission wanted all area restrictions to be lifted, so that once a taxi service is licensed, it can operate anywhere in the country.

Metered taxis argue that Uber's prices are too low and threaten their survival.

The commission found that Uber is much cheaper than metered taxis – which on shorter routes can cost up to 250% more in Gauteng.

It detailed criticisms of Uber’s operations in South Africa, including allegations that some of its drivers may now be earning less than the minimum wage, as their incomes continue to fall. The report also found that between 35% and 55% of Uber drivers are operating without a valid licence.

Compiled by Khulekani Magubane

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