A number of Uber and Careem drivers described the new law regulating the work of the two companies in Egypt as “unfair” and as intended to restrict their services, not to legalize it. Drivers complained of having to put the company’s logo on their private cars, and the potential for fines of LE 5,000 for drivers in the case of driving without an operating card, describing the measure as arbitrary, especially considering that most of the drivers are government employees.
Government employees are prohibited by law to be employed somewhere else. Government employees, many of whom seek to earn a living by working as drivers in the evening for Uber or Careem, will not be able to do it after the new law is issued, they added. Ashraf Ibrahim, an agent from one of the companies, explained that the new law ended the role of both companies’ agents including himself because it stated that the drivers should deal directly with the two companies, and not through agents.
Ibrahim said that agents have been making an effort over the past three years to promote the two companies and have convinced a large number of drivers to work for them, which has contributed to raising the living standards of drivers as well as finding an alternative to traditional white taxis. Uber and Careem fares will rise because of the new law which imposed operating cards and additional taxes on the two companies. Citizens will pay for the increase, not the companies, Ibrahim pointed out.
After the recent fuel price hikes, the Uber fare base rose from LE6 to LE7 and the price per kilometre rose to LE2 instead of LE1.85, Ibrahim said. He expected further hikes after the application of the new law, which will affect both passengers and drivers. Mahmoud Hegazy, a sales manager at a real estate company, said he had no other alternative but to work as a driver on his own car for one of the two companies to pay for the monthly installments of the car.
Once he finishes his work at 4 pm, he opens the application to receive passenger requests, Hegazy said. Hegazy said the new law will make him reconsider working as a driver, especially that he will have to put the company’s logo on his private car. The conditions under which a driver may be arrested under the new law are harsh, Hegazy added. The same does not apply to white taxi drivers who often refuse to obey the law and take advantage of passengers, Hegazy mentioned.
Kamal Shaheen, an accountant and an Uber driver, criticized the new law, saying that it is biased against Uber and Careem drivers and is in favor of white taxi drivers. Many Uber and Careem drivers have higher education certificates and some work in government agencies who are often just trying to improve their monthly income. They will refuse to put the companies’ logos on their private cars in accordance to the new law and thus will have to stop working for Uber and Careem.