Uber faces tighter regulation in SA amid taxi war

Johannesburg - E-hailing operator Uber faces tighter regulation in South Africa with an amendment to its transport act, South Africa's police and transport ministers have warned.

The amendment would also provide more clarity on where Uber operates within the law and would eliminate loopholes.

This follows the death of an Uber operator on Monday, whose vehicle was set alight during an attack near Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria on June 10.

Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula met on Wednesday to discuss possible interventions in the ongoing feud between Uber and the meter taxi industry after a spate of violent incidents between the company’s driver partners and meter taxis drivers. Uber met with Mbalula this week and is planning a meeting with Maswanganyi.

The ministers said the National Land Transport Act Amendment Bill, currently before Parliament, would clarify regulations in terms of e-hailing public transport services like Uber.

The National Land Transport Act currently states that no person may operate a road-based public transport service unless he or she is the holder of an operating licence or a permit.

“This regulation therefore means that any operator who operates a public transport service without an operating licence will be violating the law and law enforcement officers will act on such an operator,” the ministers said on Wednesday.

Uber said its operations had the necessary permits to operate.

Uber's operating model has disrupted the meter taxis business, as consumers have opted for the ease and affordability of Uber. South Africa is not the only country in the world struggling with Uber's impact, as established transport industries battle to keep up with the company's innovation.

Uber spokesperson Samantha Allenberg told Fin24 that Uber “will continue to be a willing participant in all conversations, and we are committed to open and transparent dialogue (with all stakeholders) on the future of mobility in South Africa”.

Regarding the outbreak of violence, the ministers said police will be deployed at all the identified hotspots. Perpetrators of violence and intimidation will be arrested, the minister's warned. They appealed to the affected parties to stop any public spats that fuel and prolong the tension.

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