Alexandria taxi drivers threaten strike over Uber, Careem apps

Ahram Online , Wednesday 30 Mar 2016

Alexandria Taxi
A banner on a taxi that reads "They destroyed our livelihood" during a rally against Uber,Careem on March 30, 2016 (Photo: Al-Ahram)

A number of Alexandrian taxi drivers organised a rally on Wednesday in the Mediterranean city against foreign ridesharing applications Uber and Careem, threatening to strike if the government does not ban the applications.

The participants in the rally in Alexandria's Sedi Gaber area at the Corniche lifted banners that read "Uber and Careem have destroyed our livelihood."

Several taxi drivers told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that such companies have affected their daily wages, demanding that authorities intervene against this "illegal phenomenon" which they said is not subjected to regulation.

Uber launched its operations in Alexandria in December 2015 following their success in the capital of Cairo.

Careem made its debut in Alexandria in November 2015 as it expanded to 21 cities across the Middle East region.

This is not the first time protests have been held in Egypt against the mobile applications, as the two foreign companies have recently faced growing resistance from traditional taxi drivers, who argue that they are putting taxis out of business and were illegal.

Uber's operations manager in Cairo, Abdel-Latif Waked, told Ahram Online that Uber is "licensed as a technology company in all the countries in which it operates," stressing that they pay taxes and carry commercial registers.

Earlier this month, hundreds of Egyptian taxi drivers parked their vehicles in Mostafa Mahmoud Boulevard in Mohandiseen, a few kilometres from central Cairo, and blocked traffic to demand the government shut down the "foreign ride sharing applications."

Following the protests in Cairo, Egypt’s cabinet decided to regulate the San Francisco based Uber and Dubai based Careem car-hailing services by drafting new legislation after hearing recommendations by a ministerial committee.

Several meetings have been held between the committee and representatives from Careem.

The draft legislation stipulates that private car owners who work with Uber and Careem would have to pay the insurance and taxes imposed on taxi drivers. However, it is still unclear whether they would pay the same amount as taxi drivers.

The committee also recommended that traditional taxi drivers “be included in these car-hailing apps.”

According to Egyptian law, if an individual with a private vehicle licence uses his car to transport passengers in return for a fare, his licences could be revoked.

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