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Uber disputes 'were settled two years ago'

Industry news
Pretoria - Matters believed to be under dispute between Uber and metered taxi operators were ironed out in a meeting with transport MEC Ismail Vadi two years ago, it emerged on Wednesday.

Lynton Farr, an Uber driver, said that during that meeting, Vadi advised drivers using the taxi-hailing service to apply for metered taxi licences as soon as possible. He had condemned the measures some metered taxi drivers took against Uber drivers.

Metered taxi operators have made a national call for the banning of Uber taxis. Matters came to a head when Uber drivers were harassed and their cars smashed by metered taxi operators marching to the Department of Transport last week.

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Uber drivers were harassed and their cars smashed by metered taxi operators.

Farr dismissed the accusations that Uber drivers operated without permits. He said he had applied for his permit and obtained a receipt to prove his application for the metered taxi licence.

“I have applied for the permit and have the receipt to prove it," he said. "All Uber drivers are expected to have the licence by Uber, and the application is done by car owners.”

Farr said the receipt granted him permission to operate until he received the official licence. He said the application took about four to six months to be issued, so they were allowed to operate with a receipt.

He believed the violence between the operators was due to competition. “We operate the same, the only difference is how customers contact the drivers, and the prices - but other than that, everything is the same,” Farr said.

“Metered taxis must just lower their prices and upgrade their standard; that’s all,” he said.

'Not afraid of competition'

Secretary of the Gauteng Metered Taxi Council, Hendrick Ndou, said the fight had nothing to do with competition in the industry.

“We are not afraid of competition, especially if the competition is done legally. But that is not the case with Uber,” Ndou insisted.

He admitted that he had met Vadi two years back, and believed the meeting had led to the present situation.

“What was witnessed last week is the result of failure to comply with what was discussed at the meeting in previous years (with Vadi),” he said.

“At the meeting, Vadi said all e-hailing cabs must have an agreement with metered taxi operators on how they would operate, but to this day that has not yet happened,” he said.

Ndou said he did not encourage violence against Uber drivers, but advised the two parties to find common ground.

Tshwane MMC for road and transport Sheila Senkubuge said: “We are aware of their issues and are looking into ways that we can assist. We will also escalate the matter to the provincial level.”

Pretoria News

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