GOOD NEWS FOR UBER CT: Uber Cape Town now has 145 operating licences approved by the Western Cape government. Image: AFP/ Paul J Richards
CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape government announced on Friday (July 10) that it had granted 145 operating licences to service Uber which saw a public petition and Western Cape premier Helen Zille enter the contentious debate.
More than 200 Uber cars were impounded in Cape Town in 2015 after traffic officials barred the 'e-hailing' company's drivers from operating as they did not posses taxi permits.
The WC government explained the decision to grant Uber drivers taxi permits: "The decision to award these operating licences follows a period of careful consideration and continued engagement with the City of Cape Town, the relevant planning authority, as required by the National Land Transport Act (NLTA).
The Provincial Regulatory Entity (PRE) which falls under the Department of Transport said the permits would be captured and letters sent out to applicants. Drivers would then be able to collect operating licences."
Uber drivers will meanwhile have to apply for the same permits used by metered taxi operators.
READ: Taxi protests: Uber drivers targeted
The province said the City of Cape Town needed to indicate whether a service such as Uber was needed according to its Intergrated Transport Plan (ITP).
The PRE was then obliged to act in accordance with the City of Cape Town’s ITP and must not grant an operating licence contrary to the direction of the planning authority’s ITP.
ZILLE PRAISES UBER
Zille, in her newsletter published on Monday (6 July), explained that Uber was not part of the NLTA and this caused the delay in permits being granted to the company.
Born out of the frustration of two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs trying to catch a cab in Paris, Uber's services have mushroomed since being launched in 2010 and are offered in nearly 270 cities worldwide. It is valued at more than R495-billion.
NEW LEGISLATION NEEDED
Local government explained that e-hailing services such as Uber fell into a grey area of the categories of a public transport service as prescribed by the NLTA, they were also not provided for in the ITP.
Therefore both local government the City realise the situation could only be rectified through a change in legislation, whether that be an amendment to the NLTA, or a new municipal by-law by the City of Cape Town.
The good news is that both processes are under way, which will provide solutions to important questions to Uber's entry into public transport.
Meanwhile various engagements have taken place between Western Cape Government, The City of Cape Town, and Uber, and partners have agreed that Uber will apply for metered taxi operating licences while amendments are made to the NLTA to accommodate this new mode.
The 12-step process laid out by the the Provincial Regulatory Entity in the Department of Transport and Public Works to apply for a operating licence: