Spot­light on Uber af­ter clashes with SA me­tered-taxi in­dus­try

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT -

COM­PE­TI­TION be­tween the tra­di­tional me­tered-taxi in­dus­try and ride-hail­ing app Uber will come un­der scru­tiny when the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion be­gins a mar­ket in­quiry into the pub­lic pas­sen­ger trans­port sec­tor. The mar­ket in­quiry comes af­ter the com­mis­sion re­ceived nu­mer­ous com­plaints re­lat­ing to pub­lic trans­port in the coun­try.

The me­tered taxi in­dus­try has been at log­ger­heads with Uber driv­ers since the taxi-hail­ing app was launched in South Africa. Uber is ac­cused of “steal­ing busi­ness” and op­er­at­ing il­le­gally.

Yes­ter­day, the com­mis­sion called for sub­mis­sions into the Pub­lic Pas­sen­ger Trans­port Mar­ket In­quiry, which was re­cently pub­lished in a govern­ment gazette.

The scope of the in­quiry in­cludes price set­ting mech­a­nisms, price reg­u­la­tion, trans­port plan­ning, al­lo­ca­tion of sub­si­dies, route al­lo­ca­tion, and li­cens­ing re­quire­ments among other things. In essence, the com­mis­sion seeks to un­der­stand the mar­ket dy­nam­ics across the en­tire value chain.

It said a mar­ket in­quiry was a gen­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the state, na­ture and form of com­pe­ti­tion in a mar­ket, rather than a nar­row in­ves­ti­ga­tion of spe­cific con­duct by any par­tic­u­lar firm.

This par­tic­u­lar mar­ket in­quiry seeks to ad­dress con­cerns that there may be fea­tures that pre­vent, dis­tort or re­strict com­pe­ti­tion in a sec­tor that caters for the trans­port needs of be­tween 70 per­cent to 80 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion. The com­mis­sion said it has iden­ti­fied road and rail pub­lic pas­sen­ger trans­port as rel­e­vant for this in­quiry, in­clud­ing minibus taxis, lo­calised and me­tered taxis, app-based taxi ser­vices, Metro­rail, and the Gau­train.

The guide­lines for par­tic­i­pat­ing in the in­quiry seek to pro­vide for a fair op­por­tu­nity and a trans­par­ent process for all stake­hold­ers.

The com­mis­sion also pub­lished a call for sub­mis­sions for stake­hold­ers and the pub­lic to pro­vide ev­i­dence and in­for­ma­tion that will as­sist it to for­mu­late sound rec­om­men­da­tions. It said sub­mis­sions about the state of com­pe­ti­tion in the in­dus­try should be de­tailed and views or opin­ions should be sub­stan­ti­ated. The clos­ing date for full sub­mis­sions is Au­gust 24.

Mean­while, Uber South Africa said yes­ter­day that it had re­quested an ur­gent meet­ing with the min­is­ters of po­lice and trans­port to ad­dress the on­go­ing war be­tween its part­ner driv­ers and the tra­di­tional me­tered taxi in­dus­try, es­pe­cially in Gaut­eng.

An Uber part­ner driver, Lin­de­lani Mashau, died yes­ter­day af­ter suf­fer­ing se­ri­ous burn wounds.

PHOTO: REUTERS

The Uber app logo on a mo­bile tele­phone. The Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion is to start a mar­ket in­quiry in South Africa.

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