Cape Town taxi drivers cry foul over Uber

Uber is among a number of taxi apps which are being deployed in cities in the United States and worldwide. (Paul J Richards, AFP)
Uber is among a number of taxi apps which are being deployed in cities in the United States and worldwide. (Paul J Richards, AFP)

Cape Town - Metered taxi drivers in Cape Town have told News24 Live that internet ride-sharing service Uber is hurting their business.

As part of a video report, News24 Live took to the streets of Cape Town’s central business district to ask local taxi drivers about their thoughts on Uber, which is facing challenges with adapting to local regulations.

IN-DEPTH: Does Uber have a future in South Africa?

Last week, Western Cape provincial authorities granted metered taxi permits to 145 Uber partner-drivers. However, this came after Cape Town traffic officials impounded over 200 Uber vehicles this year for not having these permits.

READ: Cape Town impounds over 200 Uber cars in 2015

Meanwhile, Uber partner-drivers have been obtaining chartered service licences in Johannesburg, but Gauteng MEC for transport Ismail Vadi said last week that the internet service also needs to start complying with metered taxi rules in the province.

READ: Gauteng MEC: Uber must 'register' to continue operating

Amid the focus on Uber and its legality in South Africa, Cape Town metered taxi drivers offered their views on the topic to News24 Live in several video interviews.

“I think Uber it’s a good thing right, but I think it’s taking most of the work away from everyone around here because we all got permits,” one metered taxi driver told News24 Live.

A metered taxi driver explained that it's experiencing 'unfair' competition from Uber. (News24 Live)

“We buy the permits; we pay for the permits and they don’t have permits and they take all the clients away from us,” said the metered taxi driver.

A second Cape Town metered taxi driver told News24 Live that he’s struggling to compete against Uber.

READ: SA startup helps taxis take on Uber

“It has become so very difficult to operate now (that) Uber has taken over the customers because of their (Uber’s) low tariff and stuff,” he said.

Another metered taxi driver said that Uber's lower pricing is tough to compete against. (News24 Live)

The second meter taxi driver also said that it can cost only R100 to travel on Uber from the centre of Cape Town to the airport. Meanwhile, a typical metered taxi charges R250 for this trip.

“So, all the people are now running to Uber,” said the metered taxi driver.

It's not just metered taxi drivers who are complaining about Uber.

Last week, trade union organisation Cosatu also slammed Uber and it's business model. Cosatu said Uber must register with local authorities as well as let drivers own the cars they drive.

Uber, though, does give drivers the option to own and drive their cars or to partner with vehicle owners.

READ: Cosatu 'opposes' Uber's business model

Fin24 users’ views on Uber

In recent days, several Fin24 users - who have been Uber passengers - have also put forward their views on the internet service and its impact on the taxi market.

Fin24 user Marla wrote: “I have used Uber more than once this year and it is a really great service and reasonable, not to mention safe. So why make life difficult now by forcing them off our roads?”

Fin24 user Peeza wrote: “My family and I often use Uber to events. The drivers and cars are safe and we have never had a bad experience unlike some of the taxi operators. There is no need to carry cash. As far as I am concerned companies could learn a lot from this business.”

Finally, Fin24 user Bronwin wrote: “Uber is the most safest means of public transport around the world. When requesting a  ride and the driver accepts the call you can interact with the driver and you have his name and registration before he gets to you.”

Thousands of other Uber passengers have also pledged their support to the internet service by signing an online petition in recent weeks.

Over 20 000 people have signed the petition.

READ: Thousands sign Uber Cape Town petition

What are your views on the controversy surrounding Uber in SA currently? Tell us by clicking here or posting your say in the comment box below.

WATCH - News24 Live investigates whether Uber has a future in SA:

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