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Is this the end of Uber?

By Staff Writer
This weekend Uber took another hit, as a reported 13 Uber taxi drivers had their cars seized in Cape Town. This came after it was alleged that these 13 drivers loaned out their cars to friends who then posed as taxi drivers.
 
Uber, which is headquartered in San Franscisco, California, has been shrouded in international controversy lately. Protestors which include taxi drivers, rival companies and governments claim the company is an illegal taxicab operation – which Uber denies.
 
Rape charges that were laid on one of its drivers in India has hit Uber's reputation hard too. It's resulted in the technology companybeing banned in some European cities and two cities in India.
Uber said it will investigate the allegations against the 13 cab drivers arrested in Cape Town.
 
"We are taking this latest development very seriously. We will continue to work with relevant stakeholders to prove that Uber is helping to shape the future of mobility in a safe way," said Shaden Abdellatif from Uber communications in Africa and the Middle East.
 
Abdellatif added: "To use the Uber platform all drivers need to have a valid Professional Driver's Permit (PDP), operator's card, roadworthy certificate and be commercially insured. We have also built in our own secondary background check as part of the application process, in addition to the background check completed as part of the PDP."
 
Abdellatif said that this means that Uber goes "above and beyond the legal requirements."
 
The competition
 
However, other taxi companies are not impressed with Uber, claiming that they are "illegal".
"[Uber are] being allowed in South Africa unfairly, where legal operators with permits get taken by the traffic department and nothing happens to them [Uber]. Uber drives around with passengers when they don't have driving permits, they have drivers from other countries which do not have South African drivers licences," alleges rival Elite Taxis.
 
When asked about the incident which happened this weekend, Elite added "I think that is a very good idea. They are killing the legal operators."
 
However, the competition between Uber and the other drivers has resulted in some Uber drivers being attacked, according to one Twitter user.
 
Uber criticised for surge in prices
 
Adding to the grief experienced over the weekend, many customers were not happy with the New Year's Eve surge in prices that Uber charged partygoers when they hired the company's drivers to take them home.
 
One father took to Facebook saying that his son was charged R2800 for a trip from Clifton to Muizenburg on New Year's. According to Nicky Rebelo, the father in question, the price was worked out at 9.9 times higher than usual.
 
However, Uber took to their blog to explain how their surge prices work.
 
"On busy nights with peak demand – like New Year's Eve – we use surge pricing to get enough cars on the road and help ensure you always have a reliable ride," said Uber.
 
Uber uptake
 
According to Uber, despite all the bad press, there has been a large uptake in South Africa.
 
"The uptake has been incredible; we are humbled by how much South Africans have embraced the Uber platform. South Africans love having an alternative choice in moving around their city, at a very affordable price point," said Samantha Allenburg from Uber South Africa.
 
Not all have been disappointed with Uber's services and Justmoney came across many Tweets of customers praising the app and how easy it is to use.
 
*At the time of publication Uber had not responded to Justmoney's request for extra comment.

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