Cape Town aims to end freeze on Uber, Bolt permits early next year | Fin24


The City of Cape Town has pledged to start issuing operating permits to e-hailing drivers on Uber and Bolt. Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

  • The City of Cape Town told e-hailing partner drivers that it planned to lift the freeze on operating permits before the planned date of December 2023.
  • Permits have been frozen since last year, as the number of metered-taxi operating licences surged from 685 in 2015 to 4 300 operating licenses by last year.
  • This results in a surge of impounded vehicles, say the e-hailing organisations.
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The City of Cape Town has pledged to start issuing operating permits to e-hailing drivers on Uber and Bolt in early 2023 – before the planned date of end-2023.

A moratorium was introduced in February last year to reduce the risk of an oversupply of drivers. The city says the number of metered-taxi operating licences surged from 685 in 2015 to 4 300 operating licenses by last year.

Organisations including the Uber Master Union and the Western Cape E-hailing Association said the permit backlog has led to a surge in the impoundment of e-hailing drivers’ vehicles. On Thursday, striking drivers marched to Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis’ offices in protest of the freeze.

The city said in a statement on Friday that it would undertake a survey on metered cab drivers and e-hailing drivers to help the council determine how many permits will need to be issued.

E-hailing drivers embarked on a strike in Cape Town on Wednesday, demanding a review of what Uber, Bolt, and In-Driver pay drivers, as well as backlogs in the city’s permitting system. E-hailing drivers also marched to Bolt’s offices on Wednesday and on Thursday. 

READ | Uber to meet with Gauteng drivers, govt about pay – after three fare hikes this year

Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality’s MMC for Urban Mobility Rob Quintas said in a statement that once the city was done compiling and analysing its data on e-hailing and metered cab drivers, the council will be able to determine how many operating licenses are needed.

Quintas said the city’s freeze on applications for new operating licenses would soon be lifted.

“The city is working hard to lift the moratorium well ahead of the originally planned date of December 2023 and is aiming to conclude this process within the end of the first quarter of 2023 at the latest,” Quintas said.

He invited the Western Cape E-Hailing Association to participate in the survey which will resume and be made available in due course.

“I encourage commuters who make use of metered taxis and e-hailing services, the e-hailing operators as well as the e-hailing platforms, to work with the City to gather as much data as possible on how their services are used,” he said.

 READ | Uber ‘unlikely’ to ditch 25% commission it charges SA drivers

Uber South Africa spokesperson Mpho Sebelebele said the platform was aware of the grievances by drivers in Cape Town and was in discussions with them to resolve their concerns on the payment system.

Sebelebele said Uber recognised the pressures drivers faced, including the increasing cost of living.

Following fuel price hikes, Uber has increased its fares three times this year.

“It’s important to understand that fares do fluctuate as a normal part of any business based on various factors such as seasonality and the macroeconomic environment.

“Recently, we have seen driver earnings begin to recover in South Africa and we are constantly looking for ways of helping drivers increase their earnings on the platform while providing riders with more cost-effective options for moving around,” Sebelebele said.  

E-hailing drivers are also in ongoing discussions with platforms in Gauteng facilitated by the provincial government. The meetings will be followed up with separate gatherings later this month for Bolt on 25 August, followed by Uber on 26 August.

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