Uber
Uber

Friday the 3rd of June saw me use Uber for the very first time. I was amazed at the convenience, the friendly driver and the enjoyable trip. From my personal experience, and the overwhelmingly positive testimonials from friends and the public, it is no wonder that Uber is doing so well. It is that success, however, that has led metered-taxis to attack Uber drivers and the business.

TimesLive reports:

“On Friday metered taxi drivers blocked the road to Cape Town International Airport, reportedly forcing passengers to get into metered taxis and beating up at least one Uber driver, reports said.

The digital transport business has called the incident isolated but last month three people were hurt when shots were fired during a protest against Uber outside the Gautrain station in Sandton, Johannesburg.

On Thursday, near the King Shaka International Airport, an argument between an Uber driver and a metered taxi driver escalated to the point that a gun was drawn.

In March an Uber driver was shot dead in his car in Cape Town.

 Cape Town metered taxi owner Ayub Baker said Uber was stealing customers and the metered taxi industry had met to discuss further action.”

It doesn’t take a genius to see the bad guy in this. Uber is providing a much needed and much demanded service. They are successful due to a fresh new model and an atmosphere of trust. People don’t use metered taxis because of very actions like this. Petulant displays of jealousy and acts of violence instead of innovation.

Instead of trying to compete fairly with Uber, taxis would rather physically force customers into their taxis. While a true free market sees businesses rise and fall by their innovation and thrift, these taxi operators are so thick as to think that they are entitled to business without work.

“Uber is telling the government that they are working on their platforms solely on e-hailing, using card payments but they are not. They are operating on the conventional taxi market.  These drivers are double-dipping, they are operating on Uber and on the normal taxi market,” said Rikkis Cab Managing director Ayub Baker.

And this apparently justifies assault, murder and the barricading of a major road. Ayub’s consternations are completely irrelevant. Uber’s model is working because people want it. Metered-taxis aren’t entitled to their business and if Uber is able to take it away from them, they probably deserve the drop in business.

The government’s sole responsibility is to maintain law and order. If they are favouring anyone in that regard, it’s the minibus taxis that function like they truly believe themselves to be gods of the road. Uber drivers, on the other hand, are left undefended as barbaric taxis assault them and literally steal their customers.

Uber isn’t breaking any laws. They are driving people in exchange for money – something that they would be allowed to do for free. And if someone can do something for free, only the truly statist fanatic believes they shouldn’t also be allowed to charge for it.

There is only one reason why Uber is successful and it’s not government favour. The prime reason is that people like to hire them. Markets determine who wins and who loses through who buys from who. And in this case, Uber wins because people have chosen to use it rather than others.

What we see here is similar to the Luddites of yester-year. These metered-taxis are incapable or unwilling to change, and thus are failing. But instead of transforming, or trying to compete fairly, they rather seek to harm everyone by holding back the market. For this is what the taxi industry seeks to accomplish. They are too lazy to change, so would rather ban everyone else from changing. They spit in the face of progress.

Around the world, the taxi-lobby has successfully managed to curtail progress by banning Ubers. Even in South Africa, propaganda and unfounded statements are used to regulate and restrict Ubers business. As per usual, the incompetent use the state to hold back society so that they will not have to compete. This is by no means of the imagination democratic.

The free market is true democracy – and much better than its state equivalent. We vote with our wallets and the people have voted for Uber. Let it be for convenience, good drivers, safe trips – doesn’t matter. The market has shown that Uber wins fair and square. Taxis need to grow up and stop acting like entitled children. They must change or they must die.

Taxi-operators have asked for the government to intervene as they fear an escalation of violence – but they are the perpetrators! They are attempting to hold the state hostage with an ultimatum that the state must choose between restricting Uber or facing more violence. Government should not only ignore the demands but act decisively to punish perpetrators of violence and barricaders of national roadways.

“Uber is crippling the metered taxi industry,” said an anonymous taxi operator, and I say it’s about damn time!

 

Nicholas Woode-Smith is co-founder of the Rational Standard and its Technical and Marketing Director. He is a student at the University of Cape Town, with majors in Politics, Philosophy and Economic History. He is the youngest council member of the Institute of Race Relations in history and the Regional Director of Southern Africa for African Students For Liberty. He also writes science fiction – prominently, the Warpmancer and Cape Zero series.