Rideshare cabbies, gov’t deadlocked on car age

A rideshare driver surfs the app as he drives. (Photo: Shutterstock)
AMMAN — Ridesharing app drivers working for companies like Careem and Uber accused the government of failing to heed their calls, primarily extending the operating life of their vehicles from seven to 10 years.اضافة اعلان

Other demands by the rideshare taxi drivers, commonly known as captains, include cutting the annual registration fee by half from JD400 to JD200, and allowing people over 60 years old to operate ridesharing cabs, using the app.

A government decision to extend the operational age of ridesharing app cars from five to seven years went into effect last week.

Now, the drivers want the car age extended further to 10 years, and have voiced their demand in meetings in recent weeks with the Land Transport Regulatory Commission (LTRC)

Lawrence Al-Rifai, a spokesperson for the Applications’ Drivers Union, said that “ill-advised government decisions have clearly affected the drivers”.

“The number of smart application vehicles has significantly decreased,” he told Jordan News, citing discussions with the government.

“The number of ridesharing app vehicles today is around 6,200, less than half the 13,000 vehicles which were operating in 2018,” he noted.

Rifai said that some drivers felt they were cornered by the government’s decision. As a result, they were forced to “sell their vehicles, in view of their accumulated debts and other financial burdens, especially those inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic” when business activity came to a complete standstill.

“How can the government expect us to buy new vehicles every seven years, when we did not yet pay the loans and dues on the cars which are currently in service?” he exclaimed.

“Raising the operational life of vehicles to 10 years is a necessary requirement, which we will not abandon,” he noted.

Additionally, he said that the operational costs imposed on drivers in Jordan “are among the highest in the world.”

“The costs, such as maintenance, gasoline, insurance, and registration are very high and constitute a burden on the drivers,” he said. “We pay two licenses every year, one of them goes to LTRC”, while the other is for the traffic department.

Rifai levelled accusations against LTRC, claiming it abandoned its responsibility towards rideshare app drivers, leaving them unprotected.

“All these conditions combined indicate that the sector is on the verge of a major collapse, especially since the majority of drivers have bank loans to pay off,” he said.

Captain Majdi Al-Saafin told Jordan News that the “financial situation of drivers has taken a sharp turn to the worse”.

“With insufficient liquidity in the hands of citizens, and the constant rise in gasoline prices, the situation has really become exhausting,” he said.

“If the situation remains as it is now, 10 years may not be enough for us to pay our financial due,” he explained.

“Increasing the operational life will not harm the government, and by the same token, will positively reflect on the drivers who still incur losses and are in dire financial condition,” he added.

He said some drivers who were forced to sell their vehicles joined the ranks of the unemployed. “They are left out in the cold and unable to provide for their children, and this will only exacerbate the pockets of poverty in the country,” he pointed out.

Asked about the drivers’ demands, LTRC spokesperson Abla Al-Weshah said that a “recent decision was issued by the government to raise the operational life to seven years only.”

Weshah declined to disclose more information on the matter, and only asserted that the decision was “recently issued and raised the years only, seven”.

Other demands made by the drivers included allowing them to renew their permits through LTRC directly, without referring back to their respective companies. They are also seeking a reduction in the deductible percentage on their daily income.

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