Uber, Bolt and Others to Apply for Licenses in South Africa

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Uber And Bolt
Uber And Bolt

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Bolt are set to operate under new regulations in South Africa following the signing of the amended National Land Transport Act by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

This landmark legislation allows ride-hailing operators to apply for operating licenses, akin to those required for other public transport providers.

The amendment comes after a 13-year wait to revise the Act to accommodate the burgeoning ride-hailing sector. Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga welcomed the new law, stating, “Now that the President has signed the Amendment Bill, regulations will be submitted to the Office of the State Law Advisor for certification and submitted to the Minister for approval.”

Previously, ride-hailing services in South Africa had to use charter permits and metered taxi operating licenses, which often led to legal and operational challenges. The updated Act simplifies these provisions and addresses issues that have emerged since its original implementation in 2009. It also includes provisions for non-motorized and accessible transport, reflecting the country’s commitment to a modern, inclusive, and efficient transport system.

The amended Act enhances the Transport Minister’s authority to implement regulations and safety measures while streamlining administrative procedures for issuing operating licenses. This move is expected to alleviate the longstanding contention between traditional metered taxi drivers and ride-hailing operators. In March 2020, former Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula noted the amendments would create a new category of operating licenses and impose obligations on technology providers to prevent illegal operations on their platforms.

“The bill also seeks to strengthen regulations and empowers Provincial Regulatory Entities to withdraw or suspend operating licenses where an operator has contravened the National Land and Transport or the Roads Act,” Mbalula stated. “It further deals with issues of handling public complaints and treatment of passengers; color coding as well as ensuring that SAPS, metro police have no business interest in the operations of public transport.”

In February 2020, the Competition Commission’s provisional report on ride-hailing and metered taxis in South Africa revealed that 79% of ride-hailing operators were providing services without valid operating licenses. The report highlighted the regulatory challenges faced by both metered taxis and e-hailing operators, noting significant backlogs at provincial regulatory entities (PREs).

“Both metered taxis and e-hailing operators face some regulatory challenges with respect to operating licenses and massive backlogs at the provincial regulatory entities (PREs),” the report stated. “As in other jurisdictions, the South African regulatory regime is not yet specifically designed to regulate the e-hailing services.”

With the new legislation in place, ride-hailing services are poised to operate under a more structured and regulated framework, promising a reduction in conflicts between metered taxi and ride-hailing drivers and fostering a more integrated public transport system in South Africa.

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