Uber courts taxi owners in new push to increase driver numbers

EGYPT – Uber Egypt has revealed that it was seeking to incorporate existing taxi cabs into its ride-hailing services having successfully done so in other markets.

Uber said in a statement that taxis were“an integral part” of Egypt’s transportation system, and that  its plan to enlist taxi drivers into the platform is part of its aims to meet the different needs of the Egyptian market.

Uber plans have however met resistance from The White Taxi Drivers and Owners Association, Egypt’s biggest grouping of taxi drivers, which has pronounced itself on the matter saying that it was against the move.

“The White Taxi Association refuse in the strongest of terms joining Uber’s newly announced service for numerous reasons the most important of which is that Uber used to constantly attack the service provided by white taxis in Egypt in its media statements,” said Head of the Association Mohamed Abdel Hamid told Egypt Independent.

Hamid, further noted that Uber had plans of taking a 19 percent commission from white taxi drivers “without any additional benefit to the driver”.

Abdel Hamid also revealed that his association, which includes 7,000 members, is planning to launch an app for riders in March, providing a set of benefits to the taxi drivers, including health insurance.

“This app is for taxis only, and we have reached an agreement with the app company to take a percentage from the customer themselves as a commission, and not from the taxi drivers,” he said.

This is not the first attempt to enlist taxis on a ride hailing app as Careem, which was acquired by Uber earlier this month, had already tried to include the taxi drivers a couple of years ago but the experience was a failure.

According to Abdel Hamid, there are nearly 376,000 taxis in Egypt, with more than 120,000 white taxis operating in Cairo alone.

Uber operations in Egypt which date back to 2014 are among the ride haling app’s top ten markets globally, with 200,000 active drivers.

The company plans to make $100 million in investments in the country over five years, starting in 2019. 

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