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PM forms Cabinet committee to resolve taxi-Uber conflict
Taxi drivers protest in Mohandiseen

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail issued a decree Wednesday to establish a ministerial committee to resolve the ongoing conflicts between Egyptian taxi drivers and app-based cab-hailing companies like Uber and Careem.

The decree comes just one day after taxi drivers staged a significant protest in Giza’s Mohandiseen district on Tuesday. The protesters called for legal measures to be taken against private car companies like Uber. This was the second time taxi drivers took to the streets to chant against their new competitors, with their first protest staged on February 4.

Mirroring conflicts taking place in countries including France, Turkey, Canada, Spain, Germany and the UK, Egyptian taxi drivers claim that the San Francisco-based and Dubai-based companies are engaging in unfair competition and are driving away their customers.

Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend is to preside over the new committee, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported Wednesday. He will be joined by the ministers of transportation, investment, social solidarity and local development, along with a representative from the Interior Ministry.

Ismail ordered the committee to convene immediately in order to seek a legal resolution to the mounting conflict, according to Al-Ahram.

The committee’s deadline has not been announced, but the Reuters-owned news site Aswat Masriya reported that the committee will likely present its findings at the upcoming Cabinet meeting — the date of which was also unspecified.

Also on Wednesday, the League of White Taxi Cab Drivers — a consortium of drivers from Cairo, Giza and Qalyubiya — announced they would file suit against Uber and Careem, according to Aswat Masriya. The group claims that taxi revenues have fallen by 30 percent on average due to the activities of the two rival companies.

However, local taxi drivers argue that Uber and Careem are circumventing all traffic regulations imposed on professional cab owners and drivers. Angry drivers in greater Cairo also claim the companies don’t pay the same official fees, licensing expenses, taxes or union dues that taxi drivers must pay to obtain their official licensing. Many say that they support other, local app-based cab-hailing services like Easy Taxi, which provide additional employment opportunities for licensed taxi drivers, while Uber and Careem deprive them of business.

Both of the app-based companies insist that they do pay taxes, and argue that they are also providing thousands of Egyptian drivers with employment opportunities. Uber Egypt executives maintain they are engaged in community development projects, and that they “do want to be regulated.”

Uber executive David Plouffe recently communicated the company’s long-term plans for its operations in Egypt, stating, “We want to bring it to every part of Egypt and to intensify partnerships with NGOs, governments and businesses.”