Ride-hailing services now need to apply for licences in South Africa

In a recent development, Ride-hailing operators in the country are now mandated to secure licenses to operate in South Africa.

Ride-hailing services now need to apply for licences in South Africa

The South African president Cyril Rumaphosa has amended the National Land Transport Action Law to enable Bolt, Uber and other ride-hailing platforms in the country to apply for operating licenses like other public transport service providers.

Previously, these companies operated in a regulatory grey area relying on charter permits and metre taxi operating licences.  Now the road is clear: ride-hailing operators in the country must now apply for licences to operate in South Africa.

The president signed 3 bills into law including the  National Land Transport Action Law which was initially brought to his desk in 2020 but returned to the National Assembly for reconsideration. In 2022, ride-hailing drivers across South Africa went on many strikes as most of their vehicles were impounded because they lacked the necessary permits. The new bill will address these concerns by enabling access to needed documentation.

A report from mybroadband stated that the former minister for transport Fikile Mbalula submitted the amended act in May of 2024. Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chukunga welcomed the development, stating that after signing, the proposed regulations would be sent to the office of the state's Law Advisor for certification.

Chukunga also pointed out that the bill updates the National Land Transport Act of 2009 to reflect recent developments, simplify provisions, and address issues that may arise because of its implementation. It also includes provisions for non-motorised and accessible transport, reflecting a commitment to a modern, inclusive, and efficient transport system.

Former transport minister Mbalula noted in a report, that the amendments create a new category of operating licences and require technology providers to prevent illegal operators from using their platforms, with an R100,000 ($5,428) penalty fee for noncompliance.

Strengthening industry rules, the bill allows for licence revocation and suspension for violations and addresses public concerns. These changes aim to reduce conflict between metered taxis and ride-hailing drivers. The signed and amended Act is yet to be public, but the bill to amend it is. It remains to be seen when these amendments will be enforced on ride-hailing operators.

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