Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport Ismail Vadi says the provincial government is committed to ending the feud between Uber driver partners and metered taxis.
Responding to a legislature question on what actions the department has undertaken to put an end to the feud, Vadi said the Gauteng Provincial Government has been involved in various interventions since 2015, aimed at ending violence and bringing peace in the metered taxi industry.
A series of meetings and workshops have been facilitated by the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport and City of Johannesburg between the Gauteng Provincial Metered Taxi Council, its regional structures and Uber.
“The purpose of these engagements was for Uber and its driver partners to gain clarity on operating licence conditions, Uber to explain its technological application and business model to conventional metered taxi operators, as well as for metered taxi structures to clarify the process by which Uber driver partners could become members of metered taxi councils,” MEC Vadi said.
As a result of these engagements, an estimated 1 650 metered taxi operators have since joined the Uber platform. Between May 2016 and July 2017, the department received 2 321 applications for operating licences from Uber partner drivers. Of these, 624 have been approved and a further 209 are pending approval.
The remaining applications are still being considered by the administration.
MEC Vadi said in September 2016, a Provincial Cabinet Sub-Committee on Taxis, founded by Premier David Makhura, met with the leadership of provincial and regional taxi structures to discuss their concerns regarding Uber.
However, the engagement could not reach agreement due to internal divisions within the metered taxi operators themselves.
“There were those who supported the business opportunities provided by the technological innovation offered by Uber and those who, in principle, opposed Uber and called for its operations to be banned in the country,” MEC Vadi said.
In reaction to on-going protests initiated by the so-called Metered Taxi Concerned Group, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi met with the leadership of Metered Taxi Councils, Metered Taxi Concerned Group and representatives of Uber in July 2017.
“At these meetings, Minister Maswanganyi emphasised that all public transport operators must have valid operating licences and that violent attacks between metered taxi operators, Uber and other private company operators should come to an end.
“Minister Maswanganyi, accompanied by then Acting MEC for Roads and Transport and MEC for Community Safety, had undertaken inspections on metered taxi and Uber operations in and around Sandton Gautrain Station.
“On 17 September 2017, Premier Makhura, joined by MECs for Community Safety, Finance and Roads and Transport, met law enforcement agencies to discuss focused interventions to put an end to the ongoing violence between Uber and metered taxi drivers,” MEC Vadi said.