New Uber, Ca­reem law might limit num­ber of driv­ers

PAR­LIA­MENT AP­PROVES IN PRIN­CI­PLE LAW TO REG­U­LATE BOTH COM­PA­NIES

The Daily News Egypt - - Front Page - By Sarah El-Sheikh

While the fu­ture of the Uber and Ca­reem ride-hail­ing ap­pli­ca­tions re­mains un­clear for many Egyp­tians fol­low­ing a con­tro­ver­sial court ver­dict, driv­ers of both ser­vices are un­sat­is­fied with a new law that has been pre­lim­i­nar­ily ap­proved by par­lia­ment to reg­u­late their work in the fu­ture, af­ter three years with no reg­u­la­tions for such ser­vices.

On the same day that the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Court ruled on ban­ning the op­er­a­tions of Uber and Ca­reem in Egypt, the cab­i­net re­ferred a draft law to par­lia­ment on reg­u­lat­ing the work of pri­vate car own­ers with pri­vate com­pa­nies.

A few days later, the Egyp­tian Par­lia­ment ap­proved in prin­ci­ple a law on the reg­u­la­tion of trans­porta­tion ser­vices which use in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy for pas­sen­gers, such as Uber and Ca­reem, as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the two com­pa­nies were in at­ten­dance.

Fol­low­ing the two con­tra­dic­tory de­ci­sions, con­fu­sion rose to the sur­face over whether the two com­pa­nies will con­tinue to op­er­ate or not.

The court said that it will halt the two com­pa­nies’ ac­tiv­i­ties for vi­o­lat­ing Egyp­tian law by us­ing pri­vate cars for com­mer­cial use with­out a li­cense and that it would delete their mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions.

How­ever, Uber and Ca­reem is­sued re­sponses in state­ments, as­sert­ing that they will con­tinue their ser­vices in Egypt and will ap­peal the court’s rul­ing that or­dered them to sus­pend op­er­a­tions in the coun­try. The two ser­vices have been work­ing through­out the past year amid ob­jec­tions from Cairo white taxi driv­ers who strongly be­lieve that the rise of such com­pa­nies has had a detri­men­tal ef­fect on their work.

The court ver­dict came in favour of a law­suit filed by a group of white tax­ies driv­ers in 2017 against the com­pa­nies, ac­cus­ing the ser­vices of vi­o­lat­ing the traf­fic law by us­ing pri­vately-owned ve­hi­cles for com­mer­cial pur­poses.

Peo­ple re­ceived both ser­vices en­thu­si­as­ti­cally di­rectly af­ter their in­tro­duc­tion to Egypt, due to long­stand­ing strug­gles with fraud and ex­ploita­tion at the hands of white taxis driv­ers. Uber and Ca­reem, both mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion-based taxi ser­vices, be­came the pre­ferred trans­port choice for many Egyp­tian in the past sev­eral years for their us­age of modern tech­nol­ogy and the pro­fes­sional con­duct of their driv­ers.

The gov­ern­ment-drafted law aims at serv­ing jus­tice for driv­ers of white taxis, be­liev­ing that Uber and Ca­reem have en­joyed many priv­i­leges through­out the past pe­riod that im­pacted the work of nor­mal taxis. Fol­low­ing the law’s pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval, driv­ers ex­pressed their out­rage re­gard­ing some of its ar­ti­cles, which they be­lieve will im­pose cer­tain re­stric­tions on their work.

In a tele­vised in­ter­view, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of par­lia­ment’s trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tion com­mit­tee, Mo­hamed Zeineldin, said, “Uber and Ca­reem have im­pacted the in­ter­ests of the orig­i­nal crafts­peo­ple, as they are work­ing with­out li­censes or taxis, there­fore, there should be leg­is­la­tion to create bal­anced jus­tice.”

“Those com­pa­nies have achieved ex­tra­or­di­nary prof­its, and were work­ing il­le­gally, and the sit­u­a­tion has changed and who­ever wants to work in the Egyp­tian state should be sub­ject to the laws of the coun­try,” he also said, adding, “the state is cur­rently reg­u­lat­ing the con­di­tions of these com­pa­nies to pre­serve the rights of taxi driv­ers who have been af­fected by them.”

For the past three years, Uber and Ca­reem driv­ers have been work­ing freely with­out any reg­u­la­tions, shar­ing prof­its with the com­pa­nies. Po­lice ha­rass­ment was the only strug­gle that threat­ened their work dur­ing the past pe­riod. Since there is no le­gal frame­work for the driv­ers, when traf­fic po­lice can iden­tify that a driver is work­ing for Uber or Ca­reem, they could be stopped and have their car and li­cense with­drawn, on ac­cu­sa­tions of us­ing a pri­vate ve­hi­cle for com­mer­cial pur­poses and will be re­quired to pay a fine of EGP 3,000. There­fore, there were sev­eral calls for recog­ni­tion.

The new law re­quires driv­ers work­ing with Uber and Ca­reem to place a logo on their cars and im­poses a fine of EGP 5,000 in the case of any in­di­vid­ual driv­ing with­out an op­er­at­ing card. It fur­ther bans gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees from work­ing for Uber or Ca­reem in their free time.

Many of the driv­ers with both com­pa­nies are in­di­vid­u­als who oc­cupy pro­fes­sional po­si­tions and use the ap­pli­ca­tions to im­prove their liv­ing con­di­tions. There­fore, they re­ject putting the com­pa­nies’ lo­gos on their pri­vate cars.

Since the launch of the ser­vices in Egypt, many gov­ern­men­tal em­ploy­ees have joined them to im­prove their live con­di­tions but will not be able to do so af­ter the en­force­ment of the new law.

Also, there were a num­ber of agents, work­ing for both com­pa­nies, whose work fo­cused on pro­mot­ing and or­gan­is­ing Uber and Ca­reem in Egypt through hir­ing driv­ers, con­vinc­ing peo­ple to rent their cars to the com­pa­nies, and, in many cases, were in­ter­me­di­aries be­tween the two sides. A ma­jor­ity of agents who reg­is­tered with Uber and Ca­reem were ini­tially car rental agen­cies.

How­ever, the new law would up­end the work of those agents, stip­u­lat­ing that driv­ers should deal di­rectly with com­pa­nies in fu­ture.

The ar­ti­cles of the law did not out­rage only driv­ers, but also the ap­pli­ca­tions’ users due to the pres­ence of an ar­ti­cle stip­u­lat­ing that both com­pa­nies have to pro­vide the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of users to au­thor­i­ties. Rana Qor­tam, pol­icy man­ager at Uber, who at­tended dis­cus­sions on the law, saw the ar­ti­cle as an in­va­sion of pri­vacy.

“We have more than 4 mil­lion users and 150,000 driv­ers, and their data is a re­spon­si­bil­ity and we are com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing them,” she also said, stress­ing that Uber needs a ju­di­cial or­der or­der­ing the com­pany to pro­vide data and in­for­ma­tion to se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties in or­der to dis­close it.

In re­sponse to Qor­tam’s con­cerns, the head of par­lia­ment’s trans­porta­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion com­mit­tee, Saeed Taaema, said that the is­sue is re­lated to na­tional se­cu­rity since the ser­vices are in­vest­ing in Egypt.

More­over, the law will im­pose costly op­er­at­ing fees, work per­mits, and taxes on the driv­ers and com­pa­nies, which will lead to an in­crease in the ser­vices’ prices.The im­posed pay­ments of taxes and in­sur­ance are re­garded as over­priced, as their max­i­mum ranges be­tween EGP 2,000 and EGP 3,000 in re­quired fees, in ad­di­tion to 25% in taxes. This will rep­re­sent a bur­den on driv­ers, which will in­crease the cost of ser­vice for cus­tomer and could im­pact their us­age.

The terms will im­pose a state of un­cer­tainty over the driv­ers’ con­di­tions, which will lead them to pay more money in the form of taxes and in­sur­ance to the gov­ern­ment, im­pact their in­come re­ceived from the ser­vices, and trans­form them from pri­vate driv­ers to be­ing treated as nor­mal taxi driv­ers, a no­tion that many driv­ers have ex­pressed dis­plea­sure at.

The driv­ers work­ing for such com­pa­nies have tech­ni­cally been work­ing il­le­gally for over three years so far, as they con­tinue to await state recog­ni­tion, which is ex­pected to be granted af­ter the bill’s en­force­ment.

Many pas­sen­gers have de­cided to switch to Uber and Ca­reem as an al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional Cairo white taxis. Tak­ing a ride with a reg­u­lar taxi driver can of­ten be in­con­ve­nient, as many driv­ers turn away cus­tomers if their des­ti­na­tion is far away, the route is busy, or even sim­ply be­cause it is in­con­ve­nient for them. Even though white taxis are re­quired to have a me­tre, many driv­ers in­ten­tion­ally say it is bro­ken, in an ef­fort to ex­tract a higher fare from cus­tomers. White taxis have long or­gan­ised and protested against Uber and Ca­reem, ac­cus­ing them of un­fair com­pe­ti­tion and op­er­at­ing il­le­gally.

UBER AND CA­REEM DRIV­ERS HAVE BEEN WORK­ING FREELY WITH­OUT ANY REG­U­LA­TIONS, SHAR­ING PROF­ITS WITH THE COM­PA­NIES

THE LAW WILL IM­POSE COSTLY OP­ER­AT­ING FEES, WORK PER­MITS, AND TAXES ON THE DRIV­ERS AND COM­PA­NIES

SINCE THE LAUNCH OF THE SER­VICES IN EGYPT, MANY GOV­ERN­MEN­TAL EM­PLOY­EES HAVE JOINED THEM TO IM­PROVE THEIR LIVE CON­DI­TIONS

BOTH COM­PA­NIES HAVE TO PRO­VIDE THE PER­SONAL IN­FOR­MA­TION OF USERS TO AU­THOR­I­TIES, AC­CORD­ING TO THE NEW LAW

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Egypt

© PressReader. All rights reserved.