Lonely Planet Writer

South Africa gets tough on Uber taxis without licences

South Africa has ordered a crackdown on Uber taxis which operate without meter licences.

Uber drivers will face tougher regulation under new regulations in South Africa
Uber drivers will face tougher regulation with the introduction of new laws in South Africa Image by Viaggio Routard / CC BY 2.0

The country’s cabinet has given the green light to a new bill empowering traffic authorities to impound the vehicles of offenders.  According to a report in the Sunday Times the new laws are being introduced following protests by metered taxi operators concerned about the way Uber users are allowed to function.

Uber  drivers who haven't metered will have their vehicles impounded
Uber drivers who haven’t metered licences will have their vehicles impounded Image by Alper Çuğun / CC BY 2.0

The country is taking its cue from Canada which has similar regulations, while cities like London and Paris are also bringing in tough new measures. The newspaper report says that the Uber African bill had proposed to include a ‘transport network operator’ category as a way of regulating car owners who use the internet to source passengers. However the government hasn’t included this in its announced new regulations.

South Africa has seriously hit tourists travelling, especially from China and India.
South Africa’s new regulation is a follow on to similar legislation introduced in Canada, Britain and France. Image by flowcomm / CC BY 2.0

Uber says that it will engage on an on-going basis with local authorities on the matter. News24 reports that despite these regulations, a rise in Uber drivers and passengers is inevitable in the South African taxi industry. The smartphone-driver taxi service launched in Port Elizabeth recently after Uber was welcomed by the CEO of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism. Bloemfontein is expected to be the next port of call as Uber seeks to set up in towns with populations of over one million. The Uber model allows drivers to become their own bosses but has been consistently opposed by meter taxi drivers.