A fine as costly as R100 00 is being proposed by Western Cape Department of Transport as part of the amendments to the National Land Transport Act (NLTA) draft bill. This hefty fine will be imposed on drivers of e-hailing services found operating without a relevant permit.

Last year government amended the NLTA to accommodate e-hailing services such as Uber and Taxify, which are fairly new to the transport system. In April 2018, the bill proposed a possible fine for Uber drivers without an operating license – and have brought up the issue again during public hearings on Monday.

Several other issues were raised with regards to the bill’s proposals, including imprisonment for drivers working without an operating license. The Western Cape legislature’s transport and public works standing committee Chairperson, Nceba Hinana, told the Citizen newspaper they are concerned about the long waiting periods for operating licenses.

“Among some of the concerns over the bill were the long waiting periods for operating licences (OLs), as the bill proposes harsher punishments, including imprisonment, for drivers without OLs. Some drivers have reported waiting up to two years to receive their OLs and would be left jobless if this amendment were passed,” he said.

A second issue raised was the possible implementation of colour tagging or placing symbols on e-hailing service cars. The rise of taxi violence is a risk for Uber drivers, as colour-tagging allows them to be targeted by competing metered-taxis.

A fine of R100 00 will have a negative effect on both Uber drivers and customers and is viewed as an injustice as Uber in Sub Saharan Africa, General Manager, Alon List said.

“Apart from being an excessive penalty, it is grossly unfair given that a large number of local authorities don’t yet have functioning permit issuing systems and processes in place.”

Some Uber drivers have to wait for up to two years for operating permits and have had their vehicles impounded by local authorities for operating illegally.

Lits attributes the lack of operating licenses to the lack of efficiency in processing systems.

“The truth is that the operating permit issuance system in South Africa is effectively broken. The application and issuance processes for operating licenses are fundamentally flawed and subject to extensive delays, sometimes over a year in length,” said Lits.

He pointed out that the proposal, that regulators be given authority to define the geographical locations or zones in which Uber drivers may operate, are not in the spirit of “fair trade and healthy competition” in growing the South African economy.

Uber has asked the ministry of transport to revise the proposed bill by adjusting the licence processing system before further decisions can be made.

The NLTA amendment bill is accepting written comments and submissions by 20 August and serves as the next step in the legislative process.

All written submissions on the bill can presented to committee co-ordinator, Shareen Niekerk located on 4th floor of the Provincial Legislature Building, 7 Wale Street Cape Town by 12 noon.

The proposals are still in the discussion process.

Picture: Unsplash

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