Uber taxis impounded in Cape Town

Dispute over Uber permits in Cape Town

Cape Town police have impounded over 30 cars operating under the controversial taxi hailing mobile app Uber following a checkpoint in the city's Central Business District (CBD). The vehicles of Uber drivers operating without a taxi licence were confiscated and will only be returned by the city on receipt of fines.

Legislation passed recently in Cape Town requires Uber drivers to possess a metered-taxi licence, however drivers are reportedly having difficulty obtaining this licence from the city – allegedly over red tape.

Since launching its high-end UberBLACK fleet in Cape Town in October 2013, Uber has been successful in challenging the city's more expensive metered taxis as well as the cheaper minibus services. Last June Uber expanded its operations in Cape Town with its low-cost model uberX which offers more middle-of-the-road vehicles such as Toyotas rather than the Audi, BMW and Mercedes cars operated by uberBLACK.

The smartphone-based service has provoked opposition from taxi companies in Cape Town as well as facing regulatory setbacks around the world in recent months, over claims that it is unfair, illegal, and taking business from regular cabbies.

The San Francisco-based company also received recent bans in France, Spain and the Netherlands. Uber works by connecting customers via an app to the nearest available car connected to the service. All vehicles are operated by private drivers who pay a percentage of their fare to the company.