Friday,26 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1429, (7 - 13 February 2019)
Friday,26 April, 2019
Issue 1429, (7 - 13 February 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Uber is back

The ride-hailing app Uber seems to be working as usual again in Egypt following a period of disruption, reports Nesma Nowar

Uber is back
Uber is back

For the last two weeks, many customers have been complaining of technical problems in using the ride-hailing application Uber on their smart phones. 

Some customers were unable to log into their accounts, others saw extended periods in finding rides, and others still were not able to enter a destination for their desired ride.

“I had a problem with the connection, the map was not loading, and the app couldn’t specify my location,” Cairo resident Rana Mohamed told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Other users said they had reported similar problems while using the Uber app over the last 10 days. But they said the service had largely improved this week.

It was not only users who faced technical problems, as Uber drivers have also faced difficulties in accessing their apps. 

One driver, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that he was logged off his account and faced technical problems that made it difficult for him to use the app. He said that some drivers had had to use virtual proxy network (VPNs) to be able to use the app. VPNs allow accessibility to blocked websites through using IP addresses showing that the user is in another country. 

However, the driver said that the service was currently much better and that the Uber app was now operating normally for both consumers and drivers. The driver said he believed the problem was due to a technical glitch that had now been solved by Uber’s technical team. 

Uber has not yet issued a statement on the reason behind the disruption. It did not respond to requests for comment. 

Some press reports have suggested that the disruption in Uber services was tied to a possible dispute with the government over clauses in the executive regulations, yet to be issued, of the law regulating ride-hailing services in Egypt.

Last year, Egypt passed a law that regulates the operations of ride-hailing companies in the country. The San Francisco-based Uber alongside its competitor the UAE-based Careem have hailed the new law after both companies’ services were put at risk by an Egyptian court order suspending their activities.

Traditional taxi-drivers in Egypt have held several protests against the online ride-sharing companies over what they have called unfair competition.

In 2017, 42 Egyptian taxi-drivers filed a lawsuit against Uber and Careem over allegations that both companies were operating illegally. A first-degree court verdict ordered the suspension of their licences, but a Cairo higher court later blocked the implementation of the court order.

The two companies have appealed the ruling, claiming that the delay in issuing the law’s executive regulations is damaging to their legal status.

The Supreme Administrative Court is expected to issue its verdict on the appeal on 23 February. 

The two companies have been working with the government on the executive regulations of the law, however. Last week, it was reported that the regulations would likely introduce a new levy of LE2 to LE5 per trip, which could also be a source of contention. 

Under the new law, the companies will be given six months to adjust their legal status in accordance with the law’s provisions, or they could face a fine of up to LE5 million.

The law states that the ride-hailing companies must pay a fee of up to LE30 million to obtain a five-year renewable licence to operate. The fee can be paid in instalments.

It also stipulates that drivers working with the companies will be charged 25 per cent more than taxi-drivers when renewing their vehicle licences. The law requires drivers of any ride-hailing company to acquire an individual work permit that will cost up to LE1,000 per year. 

They will also be required to mark their car with a symbol identifying the company for which they are working.

Egypt is Uber’s largest Middle East market. The company launched its operations in the country in 2014 and currently employs some 200,000 individuals. It recently also launched a bus service.

The company plans to expand its services further in the Egyptian market, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said during a meeting with Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli on the sidelines of the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland last month. 

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