Just a day after attending the e-hailing public hearing in the provincial parliament, transport businessman Tinyiko Khoza sits in one of his cars and reflects on his dream of expanding his business to include an e-hailing service and move with the times – a dream that has gone up in smoke.
Businessmen like Khoza claim the transport service curtailed their dreams when they stepped into the market, ceased being solely a web-based agency and started charging Uber partners exorbitant fees between 20%-25% of the cost of their rides.
He said Uber’s current model meant the company was essentially a transport business.
“What Uber does is what Computicket does. You just order and it comes. That should be their speciality, and they should stick to that,” Khoza said.
“The way Uber operates must be redefined. Because if we regulate Uber, we promote the status quo. Uber must operate within limits and be told they can’t run a transport business.
“Now they’re deliberately entering in matters of the transport industry. It cost money to be in this industry and you cannot treat it as a by-the-way thing.”
He said he and his business partner had tried to explore the Uber market, but Uber’s asking fee turned them away.
Khoza said it became difficult to make money as an Uber partner after three years.
Uber, he added, was over-saturated. “I have no other job, when I wake up I go to work in the transport industry. People who have jobs and also run an Uber service on the side… that’s unfair competition to people like us. You don’t really feel the investment pain I feel.”
Uber fleet owners are largely working class, and they’re putting men and women like Khoza out of business, he said.
Uber compounded this challenge by charging its partners 20% and 25% commissions.
“So how do you (pass a law supporting) this? If you regulate it, it means you promote the disadvantageous relationship with the current operators who started working a long time ago. What we should be changing is not the transport industry; we should be changing how the transport industry speaks to modern-day clientele.”
Khoza acknowledged the need to accept changes presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but insisted Uber “should not be a transport company”.
Asked what he thought was a balanced solution, Khoza said: “We still want people to operate in transport, but you must know there must be a car that must be bought, apply for permits and get into transport.
“If you want to use the Uber system as a way of getting clients, then register with Uber, but Uber shouldn’t function as a transport company. Uber wants to cut corners to get into the transport market. They don’t even know what a tyre costs.”
The proposed National Land Transport Amendment Bill seeks to regulate drones and e-hailing services. Citing safety precautions, the bill proposes that e-hailing vehicles be marked.
Another amendment em powers the minister of Transport to regulate meters for metered taxi.