Cape Town aims to end Uber freeze, Bolt licenses early next year


Cape Town has pledged to start issuing operating licenses to drivers who call online on Uber and Bolt. Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

  • Cape Town has told e-hail partner drivers that it plans to lift the operating license freeze before its planned December 2023 date.
  • Permits have been frozen since last year because the number of metered taxi operating licenses increased from 685 in 2015 to 4,300 operating licenses last year.
  • This results in a wave of seized vehicles, say e-hailing organizations.
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Cape Town has pledged to start issuing operating licenses to drivers calling online on Uber and Bolt in early 2023 – ahead of the planned end of 2023.

A moratorium was introduced in February last year to reduce the risk of an oversupply of drivers. The city says the number of metered taxi operating licenses increased from 685 in 2015 to 4,300 operating licenses last year.

Organizations such as the Uber Master Union and the Western Cape E-haling Association said the permit backlog has led to increased seizure of vehicles from e-hailing drivers. On Thursday, striking drivers marched to the offices of Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis to protest the freeze.

The city said in a statement Friday that it will undertake a survey of metered taxi drivers and online drivers to help the council determine how many permits will need to be issued.

Online drivers went on strike in Cape Town on Wednesday, demanding a review of what Uber, Bolt and In-Driver drivers pay, as well as backlogs in the city’s permit system. Line drivers also marched to Bolt’s offices on Wednesday and Thursday.

READ | Uber to meet Gauteng drivers and government over pay – after three fare hikes this year

Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality MMC for Urban Mobility, Rob Quintas, said in a statement that once the city completes compiling and analyzing its data on online calls and metered taxi drivers , the board will be able to determine the number of site licenses needed.

Quintas said the city’s freeze on applications for new business licenses will soon be lifted.

“The city is working hard to lift the moratorium well ahead of the originally planned date of December 2023 and aims to conclude this process by the end of the first quarter of 2023 at the latest,” Quintas said.

He invited the Western Cape E-Hailing Association to participate in the survey which will resume and be available in due course.

“I encourage commuters who use metered taxis and email services, email operators as well as email platforms, to work with the City to collect as much data as possible on how their services are used,” he said.

READ | Uber is ‘unlikely’ to drop the 25% commission it charges SA drivers

Uber South Africa spokesman Mpho Sebelebele said the platform was aware of the drivers’ grievances in Cape Town and was in talks with them to resolve their concerns about the payment system.

Sebelebele said Uber recognizes the pressures drivers face, including the rising cost of living.

Following rising fuel prices, Uber has raised fares three times this year.

“It is important to understand that rates fluctuate as a normal part of any business depending on various factors such as seasonality and the macroeconomic environment.

“Recently we have seen driver earnings start to recover in South Africa and we are constantly looking for ways to help drivers increase their earnings on the platform while also providing drivers with more cost effective options for getting around. “said Sebelebele.

Email drivers are also in talks with Gauteng platforms facilitated by the provincial government. The meetings will be followed by separate rallies later this month for Bolt on August 25, followed by Uber on August 26.


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