Uber and Careem: a yellow cab's worst nightmare in Jordan

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“We don’t need Uber or Careem, the yellow cab is the boss,” chanted yellow cab drivers protesting outside Jordan’s parliament on Wednesday.

Yellow taxi drivers have been going on strike over the past month, demanding better working conditions and to be included under Jordan’s labor law and social security. Their objections to the state's treatment also included an appeal to ban Uber and Careem, which are seen as a threat to their livelihoods.

The scene is not a strange one as taxi drivers globally have protested the ride hailing companies. In Amman, grievances are less about the cab drivers wanting to monopolize the market and more about what they call unfair competition.

Cab drivers believe it is unfair that Uber and Careem drivers entered the market without their cars abiding by the standard taxi licensing expenses and procedures. In addition, yellow cab drivers who don’t own their cars are obliged to pay 25-30 JDs, or $35-$42, a day to the owner. Uber or Careem drivers only pay the company 20 to 25 percent of their daily income.

Yet many customers prefer to use apps over cabs because yellow cab drivers are often unorganized, difficult to quickly find and might be dishonest about prices.

Although ride hailing apps in Jordan are illegal, authorities have been turning a blind eye until recently when they began confiscating the ‘unlicensed’ cars.

Land Transport Regulatory Commission head Marwan Alhmoud told local newspaper Alghad that allowing private cars to operate in public transport was problematic because it was very difficult to fix and regulate fares. He said controlling taxes imposed on the sector was also a burden, and passengers would be put in danger since Uber and Careem drivers were not necessarily trained or licensed to work as drivers.

However, the government seems to be leaning towards regulation rather than a decisive shut down of the apps. In fact, a committee was launched this summer to formulate legislations that would legalize and organize the work of such apps. No decision has been finalized thus far.

"The government should embrace technological innovations in transport like ride-hailing apps," said transportation consultant Hazem Zureiqat in an interview with Wamda. “But we need to find a way to gradually integrate these new services into the existing system by ensuring the service improves for the user not just on these apps but across the board,” he continued pointing to Dubai and Saudi as examples of successful integration.

Feature image via Muawiya Bajis, 7iber

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