Government has been slow in regulating Uber, a technology-driven taxi service new to the South African public transport industry, which led to ambiguity around how the e-hailing service should be licensed.
With operations across five cities in SA − Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, all of which have interpreted the national licensing protocol differently − this resulted in a legislation deadlock.
In addition to licensing issues, Uber drivers were being intimidated by other metered cab drivers who claimed Uber was stealing their business and operating illegally.
However, government's announcement that it will move to approve a Bill to regulate Uber in SA means the e-hailing service can be regulated by authorities in line with other metered taxi operations.Department of Transport spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi told ITWeb that the move to regulate Uber in SA forms part of government amendments to the National Land Transport Act.
The app-based taxi service company has been vocal about how red tape in SA is stifling growth and ease of use provided by its taxi-hailing service.
Last year, Uber noted government's inability to keep up with digital times could see the benefits for both drivers and passengers lost.
"For over two years, we have been actively working with regulators across South Africa to adopt appropriate regulations to accommodate new technologies that can help solve many of the current problems with urban transportation − safety, accessibility and lost productivity at work," says an Uber spokesperson.
Uber welcomes the move to regulate its service in SA, according to the spokesperson. "Uber respects the key role the national government plays in ensuring South Africans have access to safe, affordable and efficient transportation options and we welcome this positive outcome.
"We appreciate our ongoing conversations with these regulators, and believe consumers and communities will continue to benefit from the progress we have seen this far."
Uber is operational in over 70 countries, with more than a million drivers globally. South Africa was the first country outside of the US where three cities were operational at the same time.
The e-hailing service has continued to grow in the country. In 2014, there were over one million trips in SA, and in the first half of 2015, there were over two million trips booked.
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