Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 16th 2017 Contents BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt FEBRUARY 16 • 2017
Chief executive officer of the
T&T Chamber, Gabriel Far-
ia, has come out in support
of the operation of Uber,
the online ride-sharing
platform, saying that it is
potentially a positive development for the
Faria said he was particularly impressed by
the safety features that Uber offers. He pointed
to his son's use of the service in Canada and
that he, Faria, is able to track his son's jour-
ney---inclusive of the driver---when his son is
picked up, when he is dropped off and where
it occurs and the price by simply using the
app on his phone.
In Trinidad, this feature is also available but,
additionally, Uber requests police certificates
of good character for all their local drivers.
The chamber CEO was speaking days af-
ter Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said the
insurance companies were, in fact, prepared
to back Uber.
And, in that context it, provide a possible
hybrid solution to not just the company's
entrance into the local market but also the
long-standing concerns about the PH taxis.
Former independent senator, Martin Daly,
added that the Government should not dis-
courage Uber's entrance into the T&T market
because that would provide jobs.
Daly, a senior attorney, said a group insur-
ance can ensure coverage of passengers.
In a telephone interview on Friday, Daly told
the Business Guardian: "If the insurance com-
panies are smart they will form a group insur-
ance and Uber will be responsible for providing
and updating the names of the drivers. That
is a simple solution. The Government ought
not to do anything that will discourage Uber's
entrance into the market because the simple
fact is that it will provide jobs."
Saying that he has used Uber outside of T&T,
Daly said it has proven to be a safe and reliable
service which should be welcomed.
Since its launch in Trinidad, Uber has al-
ready indicated that its providers are all cov-
ered with the requisite insurance to protect
passengers should there be an accident.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Si-
nanan said the Government is prepared to
work with Uber and with PH taxi drivers to
ensure that while their businesses can operate,
the public's interest is also served.
He said the ministry is open to finding a
solution and acknowledged that Uber can lead
to an improvement in the country's transpor-
tation woes by the provision of an efficient
and safe mode of transportation.
"There is no doubt that whether it is Uber
or if it is PH taxi drivers, once they are regu-
lated and are part of the transportation system
then they will help to encourage confidence
that people can leave their cars home and use
public transportation. It is why I have told the
PTSC as well, to concentrate on operating an
efficient system that will ensure if a bus is
supposed to leave at 6 o'clock it leaves at that
time," Sinanan told the Business Guardian.
The Works and Transport Minister said Uber
can also lead to a reduction in the traffic con-
gestion in and around cities and town centres
as people can use the ride option rather than
driving their own cars. But Sinanan cautioned
that, like PH drivers, the Government wanted
to ensure people are protected.
But Sinanan's comments last week differ
from the position taken by his ministry last
months, just days after Uber's soft launch.
In a statement issued on January 16, the
Ministry of Works and Transport said it was
looking into the legality of Uber's operations.
The ministry said that under T&T's Motor
Vehicle and Road Traffic Act, private vehicles
were not allowed to operate as taxis.
"A major concern of the Ministry of Works
and Transport in the operation of Uber is
whether private vehicles would be used for
hire," the ministry's statement said.
"When you travel with an authorised taxi,
you are ensuring the relevant checks and bal-
ances have taken place. Further, the use of a
private vehicle for hire is contrary to its regis-
tration. The public is advised that no private
vehicle should be used for hire."
It also raised the issue of insurance, stressing
that "using a vehicle contrary to its registra-
tion may have far-reaching implications for
the driver and passengers."
It continued, "In light of the above, the
public is asked to exercise caution and due
The CEO of Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants
& Tourism Association (THRTA) Brian Fron-
tin said he welcomed the Attorney General's
comments about finding a hybrid solution to
the Uber situation.
He said having met with stakeholders in the
transportation sector, including hotel taxis,
car rentals sector regular taxi drivers, there
was a decision to embrace Uber's entry into
Frontin noted that it would significantly
improve levels of security for passengers be-
cause all Uber drivers are subjected to a police
certificate of good character.
There are features in the app to track and
to also ensure that users and drivers see the
persons seeking to use the service. He also
noted that particularly during Carnival it
would likely reduce the carnage on the roads.
Frontin said the reality is that Uber rep-
resents the emerging digital consumer who
wants to be able to negotiate and transact
services for themselves, much like how peo-
ple no longer go to travel agents to purchase
airline tickets. Now, Frontin said, people are
negotiating and buying trips in the ground
He added that with 40 per cent of T&T's
visitors coming from North America it allows
the visitor to seamlessly move from the air-
port to their accommodation in the comfort
of something they know.
He noted there are other smaller, similar
providers operating in T&T and that the en-
trance of Uber has amplified the emerging
digital sharing economy.
for Uber's entry
PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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