Whether we use them to get back home after a night out, for an efficient commute to the airport or even because it’s better to be stuck in traffic as a passenger than as a driver, e-hailing services have become a part of our everyday lives.
They’ve revolutionised the transport industry, but because they’ve never been regulated, e-hailing services have basically had free rein to operate as they please.
Government plans to bring this to an end, however, with the National Land Transport Amendment Bill.
According to Businesstech, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said the new amendment bill creates a new category of operating licences specific to e-hailing services.
It also imposes certain obligations on these providers to prevent illegal operators on their technology platforms. The bill proposes that such conduct must be punishable by a penalty of up to R100 000.
“It further deals with issues of handling of public complaints and treatment of passengers; colour coding as well as ensuring that SAPS, metro police have no business interest in the operations of public transport.”Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula
Mbalula said that the new amendments may reduce conflict between a metered taxi and e-hailing drivers which has flared up in recent months.
At a media briefing ahead of the debate in parliament on Tuesday 10 March, Mbalula said the proposed law will be crucial in the drive to curb taxi violence.
Metered taxis have always been heavily regulated and had to operate within well-defined areas, while many of the rules for them were never applied to e-hailing services.
“Metered taxis are governed by laws, they can’t just go everywhere in the country dropping people off. They operate within specific zones,” Mbalula said.
“Now here is a disruptive app [Uber] that can drop you anywhere and bring food to your doorstep.”
Through the National Land Transport Amendment Bill, government aims to regulate the industry and make sure everyone is in agreement.
According to Fin24, Lawrence Venkile, who is a special adviser in the department, said that when the existing National Land Transport Act was promulgated in 2009, e-hailing was not yet a concept and the law had not made provision for operating licences for these services. The amendments are now the country’s response to the evolution of the markets.
The National Assembly adopted the bill during a second reading debate on Tuesday 10 March. It will now be referred to the National Council of Provinces for their input and verdict.