Should you still use Uber?

All eyes recently fell on global request-a-ride service, Uber, as Transport for London (TfL) denied their application for a new operating license. This, following mounting complaints that the company is neglecting their duty towards their employees, as they argued that their drivers are independent contractors and are thus ineligible for benefits such as overtime and health insurance.

In addition to what UK worker’s unions are calling ‘Victorian working conditions’, safety has arisen as another issue that contributed to TfL’s decision. Uber has reportedly been accused by UK authorities for ‘systematically failing’ to report sexual assault incidents.

As Uber has become a global giant within the transport industry and London considered as one of the highly regulated taxi markets in the world, the rest of the markets will no doubt be pleased to see the outcome. This however begs the question of whether we will see a similar situation evolve on South African soil?

It was not long after Uber’s 2013 South African launch that they ran into trouble with metered taxi organisations.

According to MyBroadband, Uber taxis also experienced licensing issues, with the South African government impounding Uber cars because the drivers did not have taxi permits.

This continues to mean that unlicensed Uber drivers are taking work away from licensed Uber drivers and meter taxi drivers as they saturate South African roads.

The city reportedly told Fintech that most of Uber’s estimated 2 000 Cape Town drivers haven’t yet received metered taxi permits and these drivers cannot operate legally until they have the licences on hand.

Another problem that has reared is that of security, Uber drivers and by default users are being hijacked, adducted and harmed.

Uber had since responded by rolling out their latest tech called Driver Share my Trip, “Uber already offers a way for riders to share their trip status with their contacts, and today’s new Driver Share My Trip feature now allows drivers to share the information about their trip like where they are on the map. This is similar to the Share my ETA feature already used by riders.”

Rider identification was also launched as an added feature in a few countries globally last month. “This new identification check in several countries that will require new riders without an electronic payment method on file to verify their Facebook account as an alternative way to verify their identity,” states Uber.

According to the city they have been in talks with Uber to try and legalise their drivers and work with regulators to accommodate their service.

Last year saw the Cabinet approving the National Land Transport Amendment Bill which regards Uber operators as metered taxi operators. So for the meanwhile it looks like Uber is here to stay on South African soil, but their headaches seem to be growing as major markets like Germany, France and, Hungary clamp down on the service.