Ride-hailing app Uber, has declared that it is open to offering its services to “transportation service providers including taxi operators who would like to take advantage of the economic opportunities it can provide.”
This comes after the company took part in a stakeholder meeting that was held by the Ministry of Transport of Ghana on January 10.
After the meeting, some reports indicated that Uber had been ordered to adhere to rules that stated that Uber cars must be painted like taxis, but the Ministry later clarified that such reports were untrue.
“While no conclusions have been reached, we will continue these conversations towards an outcome that benefit all stakeholders in the transportation ecosystem. We will meet again next month with officials of the Ministry of Transport of Ghana to further update stakeholders on the outcomes of our policy outreach,” said the General Manager of Uber West Africa, Lola Kassim, in a statement that was released after the meeting.
Ever since Uber was launched in Ghana, regular taxi drivers and some transport service providers have been raising concerns about how people are using their private cars to provide taxi services, and not paying the various taxes and levies that they are supposed to pay.
Uber cars must have taxi colours – GPRTU insists
The Ghana Private Road Transport Union [GPRTU] has insisted that Uber vehicles must be sprayed with taxi colours per Ghana’s traffic regulations.
According to the Union, per the current laws, Uber’s vehicles are operating illegally in Ghana because they are breaching some requirements of the Road Traffic Regulation 2012, L.I 2180.
The Transport Ministry’s Public Relations Officer, Gloria Holm-Graves, told Citi News that the said meeting was not conclusive.
“The meeting wasn’t conclusive because it is an ongoing process. We are listening to some of the laws and all that. The commercial drivers were raising all those things; about what is required for one to operate as a taxi service in the country, all the regulations that are available that one is expected to fulfill, and all of that.”
But speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Monday, Vice Chairman of GPRTU, Robert Saba, who said they are not scared of the competition posed by Uber, insisted that they are only fighting for fairness.
According to him, per Ghana’s traffic regulations, taxis must have some of their parts painted with yellow colours as well as have a section indicating the number of passengers the taxi could take, information about the owner of the taxi among other things, adding that because Uber taxis do not have such information; they are currently, what he termed, “invisible.”
He also insisted that because taxi drivers pay tax and other levies to the state, Uber drivers must do same.
“We believe in competition, we do not fear competition. We’ve been in existence several years for now so we do not fear competition but the right thing must be done.”
“What I’m saying is that they [Uber], are operating like taxis but they do not pay the fees which taxis are paying. For instance, the wings of Uber vehicles must be painted yellow in accordance with section 130 of the L.I. You cannot use private vehicles for commercial purposes. That is also an offence. We pay fees to District Assemblies to emboss our vehicles, do they do that? They do not so all these expenses are not taken into consideration by them, so if they reduce their fares, that is good enough.”
Police must arrest Uber vehicles
Further arguing why he believes Uber vehicles should be painted with taxi colours, the GPRTU Vice Chairman said that should be the case “because Uber’s operation is equal to that of a taxi.”
He also insisted that drivers of Uber vehicles should be arrested by the Police because they are flouting the traffic regulations.
“The police should be arresting them, but they are failing to do that. The district assemblies are also part,” he added.
About Uber App
Uber Technologies Inc. is a global taxi technology company headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States, operating in over 630 cities worldwide and has a platform with an embedded GPS system which is also mobile friendly and connects passengers to taxi services at an affordable rate.
In Ghana, Uber is present in the national capital Accra, and the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi.
Hundreds of drivers have jumped onto the platform to make a living either on full-time or part-time basis.
In recent times, there had been arguments about whether Uber was a transport company or a technology service provider.
We can create an App like Uber – GPRTU
According to the GPRTU Vice Chairman although they do not have such a platform or APP used by Uber, they could also create one to enhance their services.
“We don’t have that platform but we can create that platform. We can do that. But I’m saying that their operations are not in accordance with road traffic regulations that are what we have to tackle for now.”
By: Jeffrey Owuraku Sarpong/citifmonline.com/Ghana