Uber’s permission from ministry not yet a call for celebration

April 11, 2017 | 16:30
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Judging by the barrier that Grab encounters in Danang, the recent approval by the Ministry of Transport is not yet a clear step forward for Uber.
Uber’s pilot e-hailing project in Việt Nam approved
A driver opening Uber application on his smartphone. The pilot e-hailing project of Uber got approval in Việt Nam. - Photo Uber

The Ministry of Transport has approved Uber Vietnam’s pilot project of applying technology in managing and connecting contracted passenger transportation.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong said on April 10 that Uber Vietnam had met the requirements of the ministry to carry out such a scheme. However, Uber Vietnam would need to get the necessary approvals from local authorities where the company has registered its operation.

Grab secured the same approval in October 2015 to carry out a similar pilot project in two years, but at the moment, Danang is still banning it.

On April 9, newspaper tuoitre.vn reported that Yen Hock Lim, Grab’s representative in Vietnam, submitted a petition to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asking for interference in Danang, so that Grab can continue operating in the city.

As of mid-March, Danang, the most popular tourist destination in Vietnam, said it was still waiting for guidance from the Ministry of Transportation regarding Grab’s operation here.

In the meantime, the earlier order from the Traffic Safety Committee of Danang outlined in Document 57/CV-BATGT on preventing the operation of GrabCar and Uber in the city, remains valid. In the document, the committee asked that the City Department of Information and Communications order Internet and mobile service providers to prevent mobile phones from accessing the Grab and Uber apps, and that the city police and the City Department of Transport work together to find and punish people and organisations that are providing illegal services through these apps.

Lim said that the ban is not only inappropriate in light of the government’s resolution on supporting companies from now to 2020, but also in light of the 2005 Law on Competition.

On April 7, as reported by the Guardian, in a ruling that is subject to appeal, a court in Rome upheld a complaint filed by taxi unions and banned Uber because it contributes to unfair competition.

The court gave Uber ten days to end the use of its various phone applications on Italian territory, along with their promotion and advertising. If Uber does not comply, it could face a fine of 10,000 euros ($10,600) for each day it remains in defiance of the court.

Uber said in a statement that it would appeal.

In a related development, Uber is returning to Taiwan, with a redesigned model that the company said would be legal this time. Earlier on February 2, Uber announced halting operations in Taiwan, claiming an “impasse” with authorities that deem the ride-hailing app illegal. The Taiwanese Ministry of Transportation and Communications had requested the company to register as a taxi company instead of a technology company in order to operate legally there.

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By By Ha Duy

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