Pretoria - Metered taxi operators say Uber and Taxify management do not own taxis and should not make submissions on behalf of e-hailing public transport services at Competition Commission public hearings.
Operators questioned why the two service providers made presentations last week at the Pretoria leg of public hearings by the Competition Commission's inquiry into land-based public passenger transport.
The South African Taxi Association’s Reuben Mzayiya told the commission: “Uber and Taxify management do not own taxis; why do you allow them here? Who are they representing when they do not have taxis? Whoever comes here must be an operator, which they are not.
"They are not the ones dying; it is poor black operators being killed out there. It is only when you bring operators to testify that you’ll understand why there are fights between us. The management doesn’t know what’s happening on the ground. Management only care about the 25 percent they make from each trip.”
Mzayiya told the commission that when Uber was introduced in 2013, metered taxi operators complained on its pricing.
“The fallacy that Uber is creating jobs is utter rubbish." he said. "They are creating slaves, not jobs. The low pricing is to phase us out of business; once we are out of business, they'll increase their prices.”
The hearings in Pretoria followed three days in Johannesburg, and are scheduled to go from province to province to give the commission a clearer picture of the general state of competition in the sector. Next up is the Western Cape from June 19 to 21. The move followed numerous complaints from stakeholders, including users of land-based public passenger transport - buses, taxis, mini-buses and trains - regarding various business practices alleged to harm competition and consumers.
Allegations that bus operators providing long-distance services charged excessive prices during peak seasons was among complaints received by the commission.
In its submission, Uber management said its service was in demand because of lower fees and always being available. Uber created jobs as it had a lot of driver-partners operating under Uber, it said.
However, an Uber driver, who asked to remain anonymous, yesterday said they were not aware of the hearings.
“If we had known we would've made our own presentation," he said. "Uber management does not have a good relationship with drivers; they did not tell us about the commission. What are they presenting anyway because they don’t know what is happening on the ground?”
Gauteng Metered Taxi Alliance spokesman Oupa Skosana, said the alliance had accepted they needed to embrace technology as times had changed. He said they were creating an online app as well. Skosana said Uber was concerned about the National Land Transport Amendment Bill, which sought to align land transport services, because it wanted its driver partners to operate without permits, and that cannot happen.
The metered taxi operators told the commission that Uber and Taxify operators needed to play on the same level field as them, including pricing and areas of operation.