The logo of Uber is seen on an iPad, during a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan April 13, 2017 - REUTERS-Tyrone Siu
CAIRO – 25 March 2018: In an attempt to legalize the status of Egypt’s two largest ride-hailing applications, Uber and Careem, a joint parliamentary committee began on Sunday discussing a new draft law to regulate the operation of privately owned transport services.
The Egyptian cabinet sent the draft law on March 21 to the House of Representatives to be officially approved and ratified, hours after the Cairo Administrative ordered the suspension of the two companies’ licenses in Egypt.
According to Thursday statements by Ashraf Sultan, official spokesperson of the Egyptian Cabinet, the government has taken serious steps to regulate the operation of ride-hailing services before the recent controversial lawsuit demanding banning the service in the country.
Commenting on the government’s defense that it has no jurisdiction over the matter, the court stated that “no legislation has been issued as of yet to regulate the operation of Uber and Careem in Egypt. So far, only a draft law was prepared by the legislative branch of the Ministry of Justice to prepare for the issuance of a law, but no law has been passed yet.”
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
The draft law, which comes in 20 articles, stipulates the rules, conditions, and procedures necessary for licensing companies to operate in Egypt. A law to determine that the fees of license for a car should not be exceeded LE 1000 per year.
According to the draft law, the authorized transport vehicles that work with these companies shall pay 25% more than their previous taxes and duties. This law also obligates the Ministry of Transportation to license all companies that already operated this service for five years for the same period after paying their fees.
The Minister of Transport shall specify the number of operating licenses in light of the number of vehicles working with the company, up to a maximum of LE 10 million. The Ministry of Transport shall also specify the standards of vehicles operating according to the state’s transport system.
Moreover, the Minister of Interior Affairs shall issue an order to specify the shape, color and place of the "mark" on each car, a distinctive logo placed on the car throughout the period of operation.
The draft law obligates the GPS-based applications to conduct an electronic link between their databases and information with the competent authorities based on a decision by the Minister of Transport. It also obliges companies to protect the databases of clients in accordance with instructions and regulations issued by the Minister of Communications.
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
Earlier, 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.
The transport committee’s head, Wahid Karkar, said that the service provided by Uber and Careem serves millions of Egyptian citizens and is available in several countries around the world. However, according to Karkar, a legal framework is needed to regulate the transportation service.
He added representatives from 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,” Karkar told Egypt Today.
Ahmed Zidan, secretary of Parliament's Information and Communications Technology Committee, told 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.
According to lawsuits filed previously by taxi drivers, Uber and Careem use unlicensed private cars as taxicabs, and thus profit from an “illegal” activity.
It also mentioned that the two services are not legally regulated and affected the livelihood of the taxi drivers.
In 2016, Uber said that 30,000 drivers are using the service in Cairo as a source of income; the number of drivers who have joined the service has grown 73 times in one year, making Cairo the fastest-growing market for the company in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Uber started operating in Cairo and Giza in November 2014, and began in Alexandria a year later.
Careem, a Middle East competitor to Uber, said on Tuesday it has not received any request to stop operations in Egypt and will continue to operate normally.