Uber could look different on SA’s roads in the future

2017-07-28 07:40 - Kyle Venktess, Fin24
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Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi

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Johannesburg – Both metered and e-hailing vehicles must be marked clearly on the roads, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi said on Thursday.

He was addressing media after a 12-hour meeting with representatives of the meter taxi association, and digital services Uber, Taxify and Zebra Cabs.

The Department of Transport is taking a tough stance on both meter taxi owners and e-hailing service providers alike with amendments to traffic laws set to be processed in parliament soon.

“Innovation like e-hailing is not something the world was expecting, but one cannot just wish it away,” said Maswanganyi. “Technology is ever improving, hence we are amending laws.”

Maswanganyi said the issues raised by the meter taxi associations were that e-hailing service providers were operating without permits and were taking away business.

“We have no problem with app-based businesses,” he said. “We have an issue with cab drivers who operate without permits. Every driver on the road should have a permit and will abide by the law. No one is above the law.”

READ: Uber death: Minister makes bid to defuse taxi violence

Violent attacks

The meeting stemmed from violent attacks on Uber drivers around the country, with one driver dying as a result of the injuries he sustained.

An Uber driver’s vehicle was set alight on June 10 outside the Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria and the driver died on July 17.

Maswanganyi said that the issue of non-violence was the common thread agreed upon by all who attended the meeting.

“Outright, government denounced any acts of violence and intimidation in the meter taxi industry by all operators, both in the traditional meter taxi industry and the e-hailing services,” the minister said.

READ: Uber driver’s death raises fears, tension

Parking

A further issue raised by the meter taxi association was that Uber drivers were occupying parking bays at various points, such as outside the Gautrain station in Sandton.

Acting Department of Transport director-general Mathabatha Mokonyama said demarcated parking bays for meter taxis were marked for the convenience of passengers.

“E-hailing cabs make use of the app to hail cabs, meaning there is no demarcated parking for them, as a passenger hails a cab and then gets in when it arrives,” he said. “Meter cabs need a space to park when waiting for passengers, (and) e-hailing services cannot use this parking.”

Mokonyama said police will be present in areas defined as “hotspots” around Johannesburg to deal with conflicts between meter taxis and e-hailing services.  

First step

Maswanganyi said Thursday’s meeting marked the first of many to address issues in the industry.

“This is not an easy meeting, but there is going to be a solution at end of the tunnel, because there is light there,” he said. “Innovation was not provided for when the law was drafted and no one could have anticipated it.”

He added that meter taxis acknowledge that they were looking to get into the digital space.


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