Western Cape legislature concludes public hearings on draft ‘Uber Bill’

New laws seek to regulate e-hailing ride-sharing services in the province.

The Western Cape legislature’s transport and public works standing committee has concluded its final public hearing on the draft National Land Transport Amendment Bill, the so-called “Uber Bill”, and has now called for written comment or submissions.

The hearings took place in George and Cape Town and concluded on August 8, committee chairperson Nceba Hinana said on Sunday.

The National Land Transport Act (NLTA) was passed to restructure the national land transport system that was started by the previous Transition Act (NLTTA). The amendment bill provided for developments since 2009, such as regulating electronic-hailing (e-hailing) industries, including Uber and Taxify, and creating provisions for non-motorised transport.

“Among some of the concerns over the bill were the long waiting periods for operating licences (OLs), as the bill proposes harsher punishments, including imprisonment, for drivers without OLs. Some drivers have reported waiting up to two years to receive their OLs and would be left jobless if this amendment were passed,” Hinana said.

A second issue was that the bill proposed colour coding or using symbols to mark e-hailing vehicles. However, the transport industry was marked by intense competition, taxi violence, and train and bus arson. Therefore, putting markings on e-hailing vehicles could make them easy prey to violence.

“I commend members of the public for their participation in the public hearings. While differences in opinion were present, participants respectfully and peacefully listened to one another. This allowed for robust and strong views to be aired by those who [either] support [or] reject the bill,” Hinana said.

The committee would ask the City of Cape Town for the predominant cause of delays in generating OLs and what could be done to address this.

The next stage in the legislative process was for written submissions and comments to be sent in by August 20. Written submissions on the bill should reach Shareen Niekerk, committee co-ordinator, 4th Floor, Provincial Legislature Building, 7 Wale Street, Cape Town, by 12 noon on August 20.

The committee would then meet and discuss the negotiating mandate, which would be sent to the corresponding select committee at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

The Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape was committed to ensuring that residents had access to safe and reliable transport systems, Hinana said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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