App-based ride services brace for more challenges

ISLAMABAD: The novice app-based ride sharing services, despite winning publice appreciation in Pakistan, have to brace more challenges on legal and administrative fronts as the companies are losing grounds in the international markets for their operational legality.

These serivices are not only facing legal battles from their opponent traditional taxi drivers but also have to face internal administrative rifts for not having an organized pay structure for their employees, creating an environment of uncertainity.

The Islamabad Transport Authority (ITA) was working on legal and technical loopholes to bring these online services into the mainstream but “the task was resolving a cluster of complexities”, said Imtiaz Janjua, the ITA Secretary.Filling up of legal lacunas on online app-based services was a herculean task, he added.

A couple of consultative sittings with online and traditional taxi serivce representives could not bear results as taxi drivers stick to their demands and Careem service has challenged the ITA’s checklist pertaining to four taxes in Islamabad High Court, Imtiaz said.

The court has given a stay order on our recommendations and the case is sub-judice and he cannot comment on it further, he added.

The ridesharing Careem’s internal rift on employees’ pay structure which forced them to launch demonstration, against their own administration infront of Islamabad Press Club, was another setback for them.

Aman Butt,President of Careem Employees Association for Islamabad and Rawalpindi talking to this scribe said a charter of demands to management

was handedover for a justified fares and insured pay structure of the captains,(a term used for its divers).”The company’s helpline must be available 24 hours, even a captain is not on job, “ he added.

The complaints against captains must be transparently investigated for a fair play and mangement’s ex-party decsions were agains the moral and legal decorum, he said. “Captains must be given a chance to clarify their positions on public complaints,” he added.

The annoyed president of traditional Taxi Union Malik Aftab said they are going to give these online services (Careem & Uber) a tough time for adopting shortcut and affecting their livelihood. “We have filed

two identical petitions against them and hope the decision will be in our favour,” he remarked.

“Our demands are to change vehicles’ colour,pay the taxes as traditional taxis pay and install the taxi boards over their automobiles”. He said and added the authorities concerned apparently were looking to be more lenient towards ride-sharing services that forced them to knock the court’s door.

A representaive of the Careem Service at ITA office said it was unfortunate that public-beneficial initiatives are sabotaged by a certain mafia trying to get a lion’s share for nothing. He said his company was “determined to fight for peoples’ benefits be it a court or a street to raise our voice.”

The public appreciation is not enouhg to stay in the market and these online app-based services must have to adopt some certain laws of the landfor operations, said Imran Ali, an advocate of the High Court.

The online ridesharing services across the globe are facing operational issues as Uber’s licence is recently cancelled by London authorities, a setback which could affect their operations in Asian countries like Pakistan as well.