Back in July there was much excitement in Casablanca when it was announced that the city would become the 328th city in the world to have Uber taxi services available. However, now Uber's future is in doubt
In July, Meryem Belqziz, the General Director of Uber Morocco, said that... “To ensure our services respect the highest standards, we will begin by a soft launch. While the service will be operational for a week in Casablanca, the official launch is scheduled in a few months.”
However, Uber have now run into a roadblock. The Wilaya of Casablanca has said that Uber Morocco is illegal and promises sanctions against lawbreakers.
In a statement relayed by the official news agency MAP on August 4, the Wilaya of Casablanca stated that... "the company had not requested any license governed by the law. The activity of Uber Morocco is not allowed and exposes all those who work there and the drivers to administrative and legal sanctions." The statement went on to say that "The prefecture will take all necessary measures to ensure social peace in the transport sector".
"In light of the message of the Wilaya of Casablanca, Uber like to take this opportunity to clarify the way it operates in Casablanca," says Uber Morocco in a statement. "We are a technology company that provides an information service through its mobile application for transport companies with tourist transport authorisation granted by the Ministry of Tourism,"
"The cars usually having long waiting times between trips can now use our technology to be more effective because they are connected to passengers more quickly," says the company, which says it works in "respect of local laws "and that its technology is "open to any type of vehicle having a transport license ".
According Belqziz Meryem, Director of Uber Morocco, "Our technology brings greater security to the current transportation system. By using the platform, passengers can see the driver's name, photo and license plate of the vehicle at the time of the order. They can share their journey in real time with friends and family via GPS technology. Moreover, all drivers employed by the tourist transport companies hold an authorisation card for each vehicle provided by the Ministry of Equipment and Transport.
"Several transportation Acts were written before smartphones and applications existed and we want to work with regulators to adapt regulation to the new technologies," said Meryem Belqziz.
She concluded: "We are changing a market that has so far been fairly quiet and are committed to continuing to deliver technology solutions that are tailored to the needs of citizens in the Moroccan transport market"
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Public opinion appears divided. Social media comments are split between those who would welcome anything that shakes up the taxi industry in Casa and provides more employment and those who see this as a foreign incursion to be shunned.