Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ratified a law regulating ride-hailing services in the country on Sunday, nearly three months after the activities of two prominent companies Uber and Careem were put at risk by a court order suspending their activities.
The Presidential ratification follows Parliament’s approval of a law last May which permitted the services’ of the San Francisco-based Uber and UAE-based Careem companies, giving them six months to comply with the new law.
According to article 2 of the law, ride-hailing services that use private vehicles or mass transport systems should adjust their legal status in accordance with the law's provisions within six months.
The companies are required to pay a fee to regulate their status that does not exceed the yearly licensing fee, as determined by the prime minister.
Penal articles included in the law are not to be enforced on the companies before the end of the six-month period.
According to the law, a fine of between EGP 200,000 and EGP 5 million is to be imposed on anyone who operates a ride-hailing service without a license.
According to article 3, the prime minister will put the regulations needed in place to enforce the provisions of the law, based on suggestions by the cabinet or authorised bodies within two months of the law’s issue.
Among these decisions is a licensing fee for drivers, the price of which does not exceed EGP 1,000.
Uber and Careem have welcomed the new law.
The two companies faced a lawsuit in February 2017 by drivers of traditional white taxis, who accused the services of violating traffic law by using privately-owned vehicles for commercial purposes. The case was filed against the two operators as well as the government.
Last April, a Cairo court of urgent matters blocked the implementation of a March court order to suspend the activities of the two companies in the country.
April's court order gave the two companies the right to continue operations in the country, pending a ruling on the matter by the country’s High Administrative Court, which is set to continue hearing the case on 25 August following a series of adjournments.
Uber, first launched in San Francisco seven years ago, began operating in Egypt in November 2014. The service is now operating in more than 80 countries.
Its rival Careem operates across 13 countries and more than 90 cities in the Middle East and Asia. Like Uber, it was also launched in Egypt in 2014.