According to various media sources, Awais Shah announced these plans in front of officials in a meeting on Monday. He stated that preparations to send an official letter to both companies to cease operations in the region are underway. He also talked about considering banning the bike services from the companies – uberMOTO and Careem Bike. The government has stated the reason being that Uber and Careem have not registered themselves or taken permission from the Sindh government.
A Possible Catalyst
This comes in the wake of an incident in Karachi where a woman jumped out of a moving Uber car in which she claimed to have been harassed by the driver. Uber has denied any association with the driver in question however.
Threat of Widespread Unemployment
Uber and Careem are both major sources of livelihood for many in Pakistan, especially in large urban cities like Karachi. Zohair Yousafi, Head of Expansion at Uber Pakistan said in 2016 that “Karachi has been the fastest growing city for Uber in the entire MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region.”
There are reportedly thousands of Uber and Careem drivers in Karachi. Each can earn around Rs. 100,000 per month with 12 trips a day. Banning these companies will rob thousands of citizens of a major source of income. Along with this, it will also deprive the people of Sindh a quicker and cheaper ride than other forms of public transportation. If the government decides to carry through with this decision, many in Sindh would be facing unemployment. If banned, the government will have to create new alternative employment opportunities to fill the void. That seems unlikely and unrealistic however.
Uber And Careem Respond
Uber has released a public statement in regard to this:
“Sindh Government has been supportive of disruptive technologies in recent years and we appreciate the role they have played in providing masses a more convenient and affordable mode of transport along with creating numerous economic opportunities. We are looking forward to working with the Sindh Government to address their concerns.”
Careem also joined in stating that:
“Careem’s services are running as normal across Pakistan, providing our customers with safe, affordable and comfortable rides.”