Uber cars must be clearly marked – SA transport minister

Amid ongoing violence between metred-taxi operators and Uber drivers, SA transport minister Joe Maswanganyi has instructed that both sets of drivers should have clearly marked vehicles on the roads.

Maswanganyi was addressing media on Thursday evening after a 12-hour meeting with representatives of the meter taxi association, and app based services Uber, Taxify and Zebra Cabs, reported Fin24.

The decision to clearly mark Uber vehicles forms part a number of traffic law amendments set to be processed in parliament soon.

Other proposals include demarcated areas for Uber drivers, similar to those currently given to metered taxi operators, as well as a strict new permit system.

“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.”

“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.”

Changing times

The new laws are likely to coincide with the Competition Commission’s recently announced market inquiry into the public passenger transport sector.

The scope of the inquiry will include price setting mechanisms, price regulation, transport planning, allocation of subsidies, route allocation, and licensing requirements, among other factors.

One of the biggest issues set to be addressed by the inquiry is pricing in the industry.

Currently prices charged by metered taxis are set by the Department of Transport while those of competing modes of transport, such as Uber operators and minibus taxis, are set by the respective stakeholders outside the DOT. Uber operators’ charge prices set by Uber and minibus taxis charge prices set by the respective taxi associations.

“Having prices set by different stakeholders – some of which are regulating authorities – is likely to create an uneven playing field between the different types of land based public passenger transport, particularly if the transport types compete with each other,” it said.

-BusinessTech Staff Writter

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