Taxi-hailing smartphone app Uber. File Picture: AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
Taxi-hailing smartphone app Uber. File Picture: AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

eThekwini Municipality moves to regulate ’ungoverned’ e-hailing services

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Aug 31, 2021

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DURBAN - ETHEKWINI Municipality wants to regulate e-hailing taxi operations and tighten regulations governing metered taxis, in a bid to eliminate problems in these sectors.

The regulations could include licensing requirements for e-hailing operators. The municipality said the current rules governing metered taxis were inadequate and the e-hailing services were not governed by any rules.

Rivalry between these industries is rife and have often erupted in violence. The municipality tabled a report at a full council meeting recently, calling for the regulations to be drafted.

It said the sector was facing challenges that included market share, processes to assess service demand and supply, processes to guide the granting of operating licences, and roles and responsibilities relating to infrastructure required for metered taxis.

The regulations are still to be developed.

Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said while the National Land Transport Act contained provisions for metered taxis, the requirements were broad and were not geared to address the challenges experienced at the municipal level.

“With respect to e-hailing services, this sector is currently not addressed in the prevailing legislation. This has resulted in these services operating without any direction relating to the regulation of this sector. There are currently major gaps and weaknesses within the prevailing legislation.

“This makes it hard to regulate the sector and has resulted in undesirable situations on the ground working itself out in the form of ‘turf wars’, competition for commuters, violence, vandalism and in some instances loss of life,” said Mayisela.

“The proposed initiative by the eThekwini Transport Authority to review and revise existing legislation and policies will certainly address the current challenges being experienced,” he said.

Mayisela said the concerns and challenges of all stakeholders would be taken into account and integrated into the review of existing policies, and a framework would be created to inform the manner in which the sector should be operated.

“Ultimately, the vision is to formalise the sector and render it a worldclass service offering that eThekwini will be proud of,” said Mayisela.

Metered taxi operators said their business had been decimated by the e-hailing services that did not submit to any regulations or cost.

Dhaven Subramoney, director of Ivory Cabs in Durban, said since 2015 the number of his cars had been reduced to four from 25.

“We, metered taxi operators, have to pay R600 per licence to operate, the e-hailing service does not do that, they are using rank facilities without paying for them.”

He said the e-hailing services were almost a foreign entity because money they made went out of the country.

Attempts yesterday to contact the Durban E-hailing Association were unsuccessful.

THE MERCURY

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