Members of the Bus and Taxi Owners Association of Zambia ( BTOAZ ) on the Copperbelt have rejected the draft regulation on online taxi operators. BTOAZ Ndola branch chairman, Zihno Latife says the government should first curb piracy before regulating the statutory instrument.
Mr Latife warns that his members will convert to black number plates should the law be implemented as it will mean encouraging piracy and that the move is not welcome on the Copperbelt.
He said during a stakeholder consultative meeting organised by the road transport and safety agency -RTSA in Ndola today that piracy should be curbed first before regulating online taxi operators.
Recently Minister of Transport and Logistics Frank Tayali during a parliamentary sitting indicated that government is not against online taxi services.
Mr Tayali consequently ordered the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to call online taxi service owners for a meeting in order to chart the best way forward.
Responding to a question from PF Kantanshi member of parliament Anthony Mumba, who wanted to find out whether the government was aware that compelling online car-hailing services to register with the Road Transport and Safety Agency ( RTSA).
And BTOAZ national chairperson, Sydney Chewe said that although the online taxi business is a welcome innovation, his association feels relevant stakeholders should be consulted.
Mr. Chewe maintains that the matter should that be addressed first is the issue of piracy which his association and other law abiding operators have grappled with rather for long now.
He suggests the ministry of transport and logistics should call for an all-inclusive stakeholder meeting that critical issues will be explained.
“We have got too main issues, you cannot bring this law when you don’t want to talk about piracy. This is not sitting well with, we pay taxes and have been partners of development,” he said.
Mr. Chewe, who later walked out of the meeting, pulling all his members and some private taxi operators said the ministry is encouraging illegality.
He said unless the ministry of transport comes up with a policy that will protect his association and other legal operators, there will be no progress on the matter.
Mr. Chewe said it is the desire of the Bus and taxi drivers and owners that the online taxi operators comply with the existing law and not to have their own piece of regulation.
In his opening remarks, RTSA Chief Executive Officer Alinani Msisya said the agency is developing a statutory instrument to provide for a legal framework on operations of online taxi services in Zambia.
Mr. Msisya said Zambia like many other countries around the world is grappling with the advent of ‘online ride-hailing operations in the transport industry.
He said online ride-hailing operations although seemingly a new phenomenon in Zambia, has been in existence in other parts of the world for some time now.