Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1387, (29 March - 4 April 2018)
Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Issue 1387, (29 March - 4 April 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Hailing apps face court ruling

A ruling banning hailing apps is likely to be appealed. Meanwhile, say the companies, it is business as usual, reports Mai Samih

 

Hailing apps face court ruling
Hailing apps face court ruling

“They leave unlicensed tuk tuks and microbuses to wreak havoc on the streets and instead go after civilised modes of transport,” read one comment posted on social media when reports emerged of an administrative court ruling which obliges the government to halt the operation of ride hailing apps such as Uber and Careem and cancel the licences of cars that operate for them.

The ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by 42 taxi drivers who claimed the ride-hailing apps allow private cars to be used illegally as taxis.

“Using our meters does not cover the cost of fuel,” complained taxi driver Mohamed Ahmed.

Passengers, though, are unhappy about the ruling.

“It will be a nightmare for me if the application is banned,” says Maha Mustafa, an accountant who uses the apps to travel to her downtown office from Giza. The drivers hailed via apps “treat customers in a nice way unlike some taxi drivers who argue with passengers over the fare and often refuse to turn on their meters”.

The court based its decision on an article in the traffic law which bans private cars from being used for any purpose other than that stated on the licence, Mohamed Taha, a legal consultant and lawyer at the court of cassation, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Under the ruling, which can be appealed before the Higher Administrative Court, a driver found guilty of violating the licensing terms of his vehicle can be banned from driving for 30 days. A second offence could result in a permanent driving ban.

The ruling was issued ahead of a government transport bill regulating the operations of ride-hailing companies which is expected to be presented to parliament soon.

“These applications provide thousands of job opportunities. If they are banned, can the government guarantee alternative jobs?” says Diana Mohamed, a housewife who regularly uses the apps.

“It is unfair that people who have a source of income will lose it once the court ruling is applied. People in charge of the companies should have made sure of the legal status of their operations before employing people and the government should have monitored the situation so problems like this were avoided,” said one driver who asked his name to be withheld.

“We are a fraction of the huge number of taxis in Cairo. Taxi drivers are not in danger of losing their jobs,” said the driver. “I have installments to pay on my car and if the application stopped operating in Egypt I won’t be able to pay them. Taxi drivers should live and let live.”

Careem, the United Arab Emirates based ride hailing app established in 2012, issued a statement on its Facebook page on 21 March saying it will continue to work normally since it has had no official notification it must halt operations.

On 22 March it issued a second statement saying it was studying the legal status of collective transport and was confident the courts would ensure justice was done. For three years, it said, the government, as represented by the ministries of transport and international cooperation, has consulted the company and others working in the same field to establish the best practice “concerning the legal and operative fields of participatory transport activity in Egypt”.

The company promised to abide by any future court rulings against participatory transport activity, but said at the moment services were being offered as usual.

Uber, the US-based ride hailing company established in 2009, said in a statement it respects all court verdicts but it is company policy not to comment on cases while they are still being heard. It added that it would appeal any rulings before the appropriate court.

“Our services will still be available in Egypt and it is very important to clarify that the current court decision does not mean the halting of any operations of Uber Company in Egypt,” the company said on its Facebook page. It also noted that “over the past two years we have been working with the committee charged by the Egyptian cabinet to regulate the participatory transport system”.

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