Uber & Careem fates in Egypt discussed



Sat, 24 Mar 2018 - 08:09 GMT


Sat, 24 Mar 2018 - 08:09 GMT

A photo illustration shows the Uber app on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph, in London, Britain November 10, 2017 - REUTERS/Simon Dawson

A photo illustration shows the Uber app on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph, in London, Britain November 10, 2017 - REUTERS/Simon Dawson

CAIRO – 24 March 2018: Egypt’s two largest ride-hailing applications, Uber and Careem, might be stopped from operating in Egyptian streets during the upcoming days after the Cairo Administrative Court has ordered the suspension of the two companies’ licenses in Egypt.

Many Egyptians depend on this service as a comfortable and safe method of transportation around the city. Others consider it a source for main or additional income.

The court’s verdict, which can still be appealed before Egypt's Higher Administrative Court, was met with anger by many Egyptians. Egyptians have expressed their anxiety in returning back to the use of taxis.

The case began in February 2017 when 42 traditional taxi drivers filed a case against U.S.-based Uber and its Dubai-based competitor Careem, accusing them of violating the traffic law by using privately-owned vehicles for commercial purposes. They also claimed that the two firms were registered as a call center and an internet company, respectively. The case was filed against the two operators as well as the government.

Egypt's Cabinet approved a transportation bill allowing and regulating the operations of the two ride-hailing companies. The law has been passed on to Egypt's State Council for a final legal review, but has stopped there.

A Saudi woman shows the Careem app on her mobile phone in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 2, 2017. Picture taken January 2, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Parliament’s reaction to Uber, Careem halt decision

Parliament’s transport and telecommunications committees stated that a law has to be issued to legalize the status of such companies as an exit from this crisis, hailing the service of the popular ride-sharing companies Uber and Careem.

The transport committee’s head, Wahid Karkar, said that the service presented by Uber and Careem serve millions of Egyptian citizens and is available in several countries around the world but a legal framework should be established to regulate it like all other means of transportation.

He added that representatives of the two companies have attended a meeting in the House of Representatives to express their willingness to legalize their situation and implement the orders of the state to develop legal mechanisms of operation in Egypt. “The draft law that shall be issued will impose fees and taxes on the companies based on the volume of their activity in Egypt,” he said to Egypt Today.

Ahmed Zidan, secretary of Parliament's Information and Communications Technology Committee, said to Egypt Today that these ride-hailing companies provide several job opportunities to a large sector of youth. He added that once the State Council submitted the draft law, the parliamentary committee will review it carefully.

Ahmed Badawy, deputy head of the Telecommunications Committee, told Egypt Today that Parliament has been working on the draft law to legalize the status of the two companies and merge them in a legal framework, noting that in light of the new law, the two companies will work under the supervision of the Ministry of Transportation.

Uber and Careem drivers talk

Omar, a 21-year-old engineering student, told Egypt Today that he used to work with Uber for about six hours daily after attending college. “It’s not my own car. It’s my father’s car and I work on it. I am a student in a private university and I have to pay my tuition, which is around LE 40,000 ($2,270) per year. Working with Uber helps me aid my father in the university’s fees.”

Hesham, a 40-year-old employee at a national institution, said, “I am a governmental employee. My salary in the government institution is LE 1,500; of course it is not enough, as I have three kids. I bought this car in installments to increase my income. I hope that the government withdraws its decision.”

“If I work 10 hours daily, I will make around LE 2,000 per week,” Mohamed, an Uber driver, said to Egypt Today.

Uber and Careem customers hail their service, few complain

Salma, 18, said, “Ever since I started riding Careem and Uber cars, I stopped using the white taxi. It’s more comfortable and safer. Most of the taxi drivers want to take extra fees and sometimes they even refuse to take me where I want to go, as they claim that it’s very near and that I will end up paying little money.”

Wafaa, a 55-year-old house holder, said “Careem car, by using GPS, come in front of my home, but if I have to ride a taxi, I will walk around 15 minutes to reach the nearest station.”

Ahmed stated that he feels comfortable riding Careem cars, but “sometimes after the driver knew my destination, he refused to take me under the pretext that the roads are very crowded.”

Legal case of taxi drivers

Taxi drivers have filed the case out of their anger because they are losing clients to both services, as many people are opting to use the two apps to commute in the capital and other cities. They claimed that they had lost huge amounts of money and that their profits decreased.

According to lawsuits previously filed by taxi drivers, the GPS-based applications Uber and Careem use unlicensed private cars as taxis and thus profit from an “illegal” activity.

Taxi drivers also mentioned that the two services are not legally regulated and affected the livelihoods of other taxi drivers who do not work with these application-based services.

An Uber driver checks the route on a mobile phone inside his car in Mexico City, Mexico February 6, 2018. Picture taken on February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Uber and Careem responses on court’s verdict

In response to the court order, Uber General Manger Abdel Latef Waked told Egypt Today that they are willing to appeal the judicial ruling and in the meantime continue to operate normally without halting any of their activities in Egypt. He explained that accepting the lawsuit does not mean banning their activities at the current time.

“We totally accept and respect the Egyptian judicial ruling and cannot comment on it, as there are still more procedures to be taken with regards to the legal case,” Waked said.

He added that Uber considers itself to be one of the biggest contributors to the national economy. “We created more than 150,000 job opportunities in just one year. We are doing all we can to guarantee that all Egyptians are benefiting from the transportation services through our smartphone application and we are committed to work alongside all parties and entities to help develop the whole transportation sector,” Waked said.

FILE PHOTO: Employees work inside Uber's Centre of Excellence office in Cairo, Egypt October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

Waked said that the San Francisco-based company is one of the largest participants in Egypt’s growing economy.

Careem, a Middle East competitor to Uber, also stated that it will follow the requisite judicial procedures, as it has full confidence in the Egyptian judiciary system, according to a Thursday statement.

In the statement, Careem thanked its customers and captains for their continued loyalty. “We have full confidence in the Egyptian judicial system. We are currently investigating the details of the Egyptian Administrative Court ruling regarding the licensing of the ride-sharing industry," read the statement.

The company also defended the legality of their three years of operating in Egypt saying:

"Over the last three years, the Government of Egypt, in cooperation with the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation, and the Ministry of Transportation, started to consult and work with all stakeholders, including Careem and other ride-hailing companies, to develop the best legislative practice and regulatory framework for ride-hailing services in Egypt. This resulted in a draft law on ride-hailing that was submitted to the Egyptian Parliament.

“Over that period, the combined efforts of Careem and the Government of Egypt have successfully created more than 100,000 job opportunities for Egyptians; Careem has also invested more than $25 million in infrastructure, established its global call center in Cairo and enabled the provision of affordable on-demand transportation services in 14 cities across Egypt. Careem will continue to work hand in hand with its partner, the Government of Egypt. And should any verdict be reached against the ride-hailing industry, we will follow the requisite judicial procedures available under the Egyptian Law. For now, we will continue to serve Egyptians as usual."In 2016, Uber said that 30,000 drivers were using the service in Cairo as a source of income. The number of drivers who have joined the service since then has grown by 73 times that amount in one year, making Cairo the fastest-growing market for the company in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”



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