Uber London is in troubled waters as the Information Technology Company whose specific domain is in the Ride Hailing Business will not be able to renew its private hire operator's license for the City of London as the Regulator has lost faith the ability of the company to provide adequate safety for its customers.
Reasons Uber can't get the license to operate in London
Uber's troubles date back to last year when the company's application for an operating licence was declined by Transportation for London TfL the Regulator with the legal power to issues Private Hire Operating Licence for the city of London. However, UBER London got a favourable verdict from a London Magistrate Court that awarded her a 15 months Licence.
The trailblazer in ride hailing services is having a rough time in London
In September, Transport for London issued UBER a probationary two months Licence that was to allow the regulator to gather more information and facts before making a decision on issuing a new private hire operating licence to the ride-hailing company. But according to a press release by the regulator on the 25th of November, 2019, there will not be a new operating licence issued to the company to operate within the jurisdiction of the TfL. The regulator gave the following reasons for its decision not to issue a new licence to the firm;
- A change to Uber's systems allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts.
- That UBER's system is easily manipulated to allow unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other accounts allows the unauthorised drivers to pick up unsuspecting passengers. This situation poses serious risk to passengers who get exposed to drivers who are unlicensed and uninsured. As reported by TfL, this issue was observed in as much as 14,000 rides which is a seriously alarming figure.
- Another case of system failure stems from the ability of sacked drivers, as well as TfL banned drivers being able to open new driver's account and carry on taxing with the company. This sacked and banned drivers were people certified to be risky and posing serious safety and security issues to unsuspecting passengers who are exposed to these dangers.
- Another stated reason is that UBER system is not robust enough and failed to fish out cars with serious insurance and hire registration related issues. These insurance-related issues were repeated infringements that the TfL even prosecuted UBER on some occasions in the past.
Speaking on the UBER issue, TfL Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging, Helen Chapman said;
"As the regulator of private hire services in London we are required to make a decision today on whether Uber is fit and proper to hold a license. Safety is our absolute top priority. While we recognize Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured", speaking further she added "It is clearly concerning that these issues arose, but it is also concerning that we cannot be confident that similar issues won't happen again in future."
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21 days - the precious time left for Uber to fight for its survival in London
However, UBER has 21 days legal windowed allowed it to appeal the decision of the TfL to a Magistrate Court proving why it should be allowed to still operate within the Jurisdiction of TfL. The company will be allowed to operate within this appeal period and other periods of Litigation, however, the company's operation will still be closely monitored and scrutinized by the Regulator.
Uber isn't supported by London residents either
Comments from UBER seem to suggest that the company will be challenging this decision in court and will submit an appeal, considering the following tweet by CEO of UBER Dara Khosrowshahi;
We understand we’re held to a high bar, as we should be. But this TfL decision is just wrong. Over the last 2 years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London. We have come very far — and we will keep going, for the millions of drivers and riders who rely on us.— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) November 25, 2019
How the London decision should affect the Nigerian UBER story
The issues for which UBER's London license is declined, are similar and possibly of a more alarming level to that observed in Nigeria. UBER's model in Nigeria is all about the profit for the company, neglecting the serious safety and security concerns that come with operating a ride-hailing system that is not robust enough to handle the same issues as the London case.
In Nigeria, it is not uncommon to find at least 5 persons operating on a single UBER driver account. This situation is further compounded by the lukewarm attitude of some Nigerians to follow ride-hailing security rules of confirming the identity of drivers.
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Not just Uber, other ride-sharing services in Nigeria faces harsh criticism on their safety
With several reported incidents on customers of ride-hailing services suffering assault, rape, robbery and even murder on the rise, only this morning news of a Taxify passenger being thrown out of a moving vehicle surfaced, it is important that the Regulators in charge of issuing licenses to these companies reexamine the standing requirements and rules of operation and where blatant infringements are observed such firm's licenses may be terminated or not renewed.
The Nigerian Regulator should also consider enforcing the use of Fingerprint check for drivers that can be verified on the spot by passengers.
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