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Tuesday Jan 31, 2017

After Punjab, Sindh govt also seeks legal action against Uber, Careem


KARACHI: A day after the Punjab government declared the services of mobile-application taxi service providers Careem, Uber and A-One as illegal, the Sindh government on Tuesday also sought legal action against these companies.

The Sindh government has declared the use of private cars as taxis without the mandatory legal permits as “illegal” and has contacted PTA as it seeks to block Careem’s mobile app.

Transport Secretary Taha Farooqui said in a statement that he wrote five letters to Careem management as a warning but received no reply.

The provincial government has also initiated action against Uber to bring the app within ‘official compliance’.

According to the Transport Secretary, private cars would need to be made commercial in order to be used as taxis.

Owners of the cars would be required to obtain fitness certificates for the cars. Route permits would be needed before the cars can be used as taxis, he added.

Also Read: After Punjab, Sindh govt also seeks legal action against Uber, Careem

'Existing transport infrastructure not a better option'

Sindh Transport Minister Nasir Shah told Geo News that in Sindh, Uber and Careem had not been banned, adding that they had only been sent notices to comply with route permit and excise and taxation department challans. These challans, he said, need to be paid along with certain requirements they need to fulfill in order for private vehicles to be used for providing commercial transport services.

When asked why the government had suddenly sprung into action against the two companies when the existing transport infrastructure in the province and Karachi was in a dire state, Shah acknowledged that the state of existing transport in the metropolis was not a better option compared to the options provided by Careem and Uber.

When asked whether the existing transport options had fitness certificates and complied with the route regulations and legal requirements, Shah reiterated that he agreed that the existing transport infrastructure was not a better option compared to Uber and Careem.

However, he stressed that unlike Punjab, the services had not been banned and only compliance notices had been sent to the companies.

Punjab govt declares Uber, Careem 'illegal'

The Punjab government on Monday declared the services of Careem and Uber 'illegal'.

A notification issued by the Punjab Transport Authority stated: "It has been observed with grave concern that some companies including Careem, Uber, A-One etc are offering cab services through mobile network technology without registering the private cars with any regulatory body and without obtaining fitness certificate/route permits of these cars, causing great loss to the Govt."

The notification further mentioned that as security clearances of drivers are also not obtained from concerned authorities, orders have been issued for strict action against the aforementioned companies.

Regulatory tussles around the world

Mobile-app taxi service providers and ride-sharing companies like Uber and Careem have in the past faced regulatory opposition in various countries they operate in, prompting new legislations by government authorities.

In India, for instance, Uber was banned in 2014 by transport authorities in Hyderabad for not holding a license to operate in the city. In another state Karnataka, authorities sought a ban on unregistered and unlicensed cab services.

In Malaysia, authorities cracked down against ride-sharing apps for offering ‘illegal’ taxi services.

In New Zealand, a number of vehicles operated by such apps were stopped in 2015 as they “did not fit the legal definition of a ‘private hire service,’” as the authorities put it.

In 2015, South Africa impounded a number of vehicles of Uber claiming the service was operating without suitable permits.

Last year, both Uber and Careem temporarily halted their services in Abu Dhabi. Sources within the companies said many of the drivers were being stopped by authorities ‘apparently over licensing issues’.

In most such cases, the ride-sharing apps complied with the legislations while in other cases new legislation was introduced so the services could continue operating without any further roadblocks, 

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